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Domestic Workers Globally Launch Campaign for International Rights on Human Rights Day PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Domestic Workers United (DWU)   
Thursday, 10 December 2009 16:23

New York- Domestic Workers in New York Continue the Fight to Get the First Bill of Rights Passed in US.

On International Human Rights Day domestic workers around the world are taking action to launch a campaign to create international labor standards for domestic work through the passage of an ILO (International Labor Organization) Convention on Domestic Work. Domestic workers (housecleaners, nannies, and elderly care givers) are left out of most basic labor protections and as a result are left vulnerable to abuse and exploitation on the job. From NY to CA, from the US Department of Labor to the ILO—domestic workers are proposing concrete policy solutions to ensure basic labor protections for this work that makes all other work possible.

In New York, domestic workers are poised to set national precedent, as the first-ever comprehensive legislation, known as the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, guaranteeing basic benefits and protections for this work force currently awaits passage in the State Senate. The bill, which includes overtime, notice, and sick days, addresses the exclusion of domestic workers from most basic labor protections, provides recognition for the workforce as a real workforce, and establishes specific protections to address the isolation and vulnerability of domestic workers to abuse and mistreatment.

Patricia Francois, a nanny, who left an abusive situation in Manhattan, explains why she and other workers need legal protection. Francois was hit by her employer and taken to the emergency room by a neighbor after working approximately six-and-a-half years taking care of her employer’s child. “How could you treat me this way? I am taking care of the most precious thing in your lives – and you treat me like I’m taking care of a piece of garbage,” said Francois.  After physically abusing her, Francois’s employers repeatedly asked her to come back and continue working.

Juanita Flores, former domestic worker, Co-Director of Mujeres Unidas y Activas in CA, and leader in the National Domestic Worker Alliance, puts it this way, “It is better for everyone to live in a society that pays attention to human rights, rather than one that ignores human rights. Our employers and society as a whole benefit when we are treated with dignity and respect. We need to improve our laws, from the state to the international level, in order to help ensure basic rights for domestic workers.”

Ana Avendaño, General Counsel with the AFL-CIO, says “The domestic worker industry is riddled with abuse, mistreatment, and labor violations. The mostly female and immigrant domestic workforce is particularly vulnerable due to the isolated nature of the industry, where women labor behind closed doors and out of the public eye. Furthermore, domestic workers are excluded from or discriminated against by most labor and employment laws. In fact, domestic worker’s exclusion from the National Labor Relations Act, means they are unprotected when asking for respect of their basic rights and are unable to collectively bargain for conditions allowing them to labor in dignity. For all these reasons, it’s critically important that we create strong labor standards for domestic workers.”

The National Domestic Worker Alliance, representing 30 domestic worker organizations around the country, is currently lobbying the Department of Labor to improve their regulations and enforcement of labor protections.

For further information, please refer to the contacts at the top of the media release.

Many thanks,

Lyell Sakaue

Domestic Workers United

(212) 481-5747


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