California Domestic Workers Celebrate Mother’s Day with Visit to Lawmakers

Mother's Day in California will be extra special this Sunday, as working families, students and elected officials honor mothers by recognizing the role of domestic workers in our households. The events coincide with the launch of video highlighting the work of domestic workers around the state and the need for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Domestic workers and their supporters will gather in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Santa Rosa to celebrate working mothers and preview the video, by Brave New Foundation’s Cuéntame.

Last year, the state Assembly passed A.B. 889, authored by San Francisco Assembly member Tom Ammiano, that would give domestic workers some state-recognized rights in their efforts to curb abusive conditions. It would provide meal and rest breaks, overtime and reporting pay as enjoyed by other workers and expand domestic workers' access to workers' compensation. In addition, it would guarantee eight hours of sleep for those who work around the clock and allow them to use kitchen facilities.

The bill would affect the 200,000 people who work in California domestic service, who are almost entirely women and immigrants or people of color. While domestic workers face the same excuses for substandard conditions faced by other women, namely that they're only working to supplement the income of men, most of them are either the sole source of income for their families or are bringing home pay that their families can't live without. They perform the fundamental duties of the home, including child care, house cleaning and cooking, as well as caring for people with disabilities, the sick and the elderly.  

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka traveled to Sacramento in February to lend the AFL-CIO's support for the bill.

In coming days, a statewide delegation of domestic workers will gather to have a breakfast with legislators in Sacramento and distribute Mother’s Day cards in the state Capitol, while in Los Angeles, domestic workers will convene at a press conference, view the Cuéntame video and hold several state senator district office visits. During these visits, they will bring banners, balloons, giant Mother's Day post cards, signs and flowers to deliver to the senators.

California domestic workers are part of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a membership-based organization with 35 affliates in 19 cities and 11 states around the country for nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly. In fall 2010, a first-ever Domestic Workers Rights Bill was signed into law in New York, following a years' long campaign by domestic workers in that state.