Respect and Recognition for Domestic Workers
"We are four generations of domestic workers from my great- grandmother to me. If you count our labor consecutively, we have almost 75 years in the profession, almost as many years as domestic workers in this country have been excluded from basic labor protections." —CA domestic worker, Grecia Lima.
74 years ago, American workers won the right to minimum wage, overtime pay, and at least one day of rest each week. But domestic workers were excluded from these basic protections because back then, the black women who cleaned, cooked, and cared for children were considered second-class citizens.
Our country has come a long way since 1938, but our labor laws haven't kept up.
For 74 years, domestic workers have been denied the basic labor rights that so many American workers take for granted. It's time to bring our nation's labor laws into the twenty-first century!
Fourteen year-old Maria is the eldest of four children. Her mom is a domestic worker. She doesn’t have time to eat during her 10 hour shift and is discouraged from sitting down at work. So Maria's mom comes home hungry, with back and knee pain. Maria’s mother is never paid overtime, even when she is asked to spend the night.
Maria’s mom doesn’t want to leave her job because she cares about the children she is taking care of. But her knees are getting worse from standing 10 hours a day and she doesn’t know what she will do when she can no longer stand the pain.
Maria explains, “I know that the sacrifices that my mom makes to give us a better life, to make sure that we do well in school and we have everything we need, but I feel a great sadness when I see my mom come back from work so tired and unappreciated.”
Maria’s mom story is not every domestic worker’s story, but every domestic worker is just as vulnerable as she is. Without laws to protect them, all domestic workers are vulnerable to abuse.
The barista making coffee at Starbucks gets overtime pay, but the women that care for California's elderly, children, and homes do not. This must change. It is time for California to lead the way.
#BeTheHelp is a campaign of the National Domestic Workers Alliance that encourages people like you to take simple actions that create respect, recognition and protections for domestic workers in California and across America.