Thoughts on the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

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On Sunday, May 1 there was an article in the New York Times Style Magazine about the woman that organized Domestic Works’ United in NYC (You can read the article here http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/the-nannies-norma-rae/#more-156729 ).  DWU was the force behind a new NY statte law that went into effect on November 30, 2010, called the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. 

The article focuses on the woman who organized the group, Ai-jen Poo, and the reasons she felt domestic workers needed to organize.  She had been a housekeeper for a family, beginning at the age of 16, when she first immigrated to the U.S.  She worked for them for many years, but it was an abusive situation, that she eventually escaped from, with some assistance.

We have all heard stories about domestic workers that are abused, under paid and worse.  These are the stories that make headlines.  We don’t have statistics on such situations, but I would like to believe the number of households where this abuse occurs is very low. 

It is good that domestic workers have rights, just like all workers in America should have protection at their jobs.  There are a lot of difficulties in regulating this industry, though, mainly because individuals are hired by individual families.  To enforce regulations and monitor the employers in this industry seems impossible. 

It will be interesting to see if this new Domestic Bill of Rights raises the awareness amongst both employees and employers, and what changes occur within our industry as a result of these new laws. 

There is similar legislation currently proposed in CA.  I will be watching to see if a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights passes in CA and what other states decide to pass similar legislation. 

It is too bad that the employers haven’t united to protest the pathetic tax credit they receive when they employ a nanny.  They, too, need to come up with their own bill of rights.  This topic will be covered in a future blog.

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