NYCLU Applauds Senate for Passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

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June 1, 2010 —  The New York Civil Liberties Union tonight applauded the New York State Senate for working to ensure the equal treatment of all workers in New York by passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights by 33 to 28.

“The State Senate has passed landmark legislation,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “For too long, domestic workers have been excluded from basic labor protections, a legacy leftover from the Jim Crow era. Governor Paterson and the State Assembly must now join the Senate in standing strong in this fight for equal protections for all of New York’s workers.”

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would provide New York’s 200,000 domestic workers with the basic labor protections that have been afforded other workers for nearly a century, such as a day off every week, overtime pay, paid sick days, the right to form a union and recognition under the state’s Human Rights Law.

According to a study by Domestic Workers United and Datacenter, 26 percent of domestic workers earn wages below either the poverty line or the minimum wage rate. Thirty-three percent have reported verbal or physical abuse. Although half report working overtime, few have received overtime pay. Only 10 percent receive health insurance from their employers. And because 93 percent of domestic workers are women and 95 percent are people of color, this injustice tends to affect New York’s most marginalized communities.

“Domestic workers take care of New York’s children, our sick, and our aging parents and grandparents,” Lieberman said. “The Assembly must now do what’s right and quickly pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. We cannot abide by a loophole that keeps basic labor protections from nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly.”

The legislation must pass through the State Assembly before Governor Paterson can sign it into law. The Assembly version of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights differs from the Senate’s version. Before Gov. Paterson can sign the bill, the Assembly will either have to amend its version to match the Senate’s version, or the two chambers will have to create a new, compromise bill.

When the State Assembly passes the bill and Governor Paterson signs it, New York will be the first state to pass legislation that imposes labor protections for domestic workers.