Friday, September 20, 2013

The Babysitters’ Union

If Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has his way, your babysitter soon could join a union and cost you a lot more.
The San Francisco Democrat has authored several domestic-worker unionization bills that have been vetoed by California governors. Now he’s back with Assembly Bill 241, which just passed both houses of the Legislature and is awaiting a signature or veto from Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill would significantly impact home health care providers’ ability to provide affordable care to elderly clients or clients with disabilities.
Flexibility in schedules for such workers is imperative, based on the unique needs of the client. But the law would make it difficult to provide care to those needing around-the-clock assistance.
The other problem is the home-care industry will be forced to absorb the additional increased labor costs caused by this bill. The increased costs could make live-in care unaffordable for many families, landing more elderly Californians in state-run long-term medical care hospitals.

It always starts with a resolution

In 2010, the Legislature passed a Resolution for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which spawned a study by UCLA on the issue.
“This resolution highlights the work done by domestic workers in the state and the labor violations faced by these workers,” the UCLA study said. “The resolution calls for the fair treatment of these workers, noting that domestic workers have a right to be treated with respect and dignity.”
The California Domestic Worker Coalition was formed in 2009 to replicate New York’s Domestic Worker Bill of Rights.
The coalition included Mujeres Unidas Y Activas, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), La Colectiva de Mujeres of La Raza Centro Legal, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Grayton Day Labor Program, the Pilipino Worker Center, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, and Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California.
In 2009, the coalition brought together 100 domestic workers to create a list of demands for workplace protections available to other workers, such as overtime pay, Cal/OSHA safety standards and workers’ compensation.
This isn’t just a grassroots effort to help domestic workers. It’s being pushed by big labor groups such as Urban Habitat, the International Labour Organization and the National Domestic Worker Alliance.

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