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16 May 2022

Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's Bazaar

USA: Domestic workers call for national domestic workers bill of rights

"Domestic Workers Deserve Rights, Too," 13 May 2022

In her six years of experience working as a caregiver in the suburbs of Chicago, Myrla Baldonado—a human rights organizer who emigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 2006—had served 30 different clients. Out of those 30, she was sexually harassed by eight.

... The U.S. has long excluded domestic workers—as well as other historically marginalized sections of labor, like farmworkers—from safeguards granted under landmark New Deal–era legislation like the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Social Security Act. Their omission was by design.

...[M]ore than 90 percent of domestic workers are women, and over half of them are Black, Hispanic, or Asian American/Pacific Islander women, according to a 2020 report published by the Economic Policy Institute. They tend to be older than those in other professions and are three times as likely to be living in poverty or just above the poverty line, a circumstance only made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of them are excluded from federal laws establishing basic workers’ rights.

... In the absence of more significant strides at the federal level, a handful of states have adopted a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, including New York, Illinois, Oregon, California, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Virginia, as well as the cities of Seattle and Philadelphia. But it’s a federal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights that workers ... are demanding.

... Such a bill would allow for groundbreaking authorization of crucial rights that domestic workers are currently missing, including paid sick days, meal and rest breaks, fair compensation, overtime pay, and civil rights coverage under Title VII. The bill would additionally target incidents of workplace sexual violence ... .