And, so it is …

We’ve made history today, not just for us, but for generations to come to prove that change can happen when we stand for dignity, justice, & respect for all!
~Priscilla Gonzalez, Domestic Workers United

August 31, 2010

Governor Paterson Signs Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

Governor David A. Paterson today signed into law a landmark bill to grant workplace protections to domestic workers, the first such law to be enacted in the nation. Domestic workers had been excluded from many of the rights granted to other employees by legislation enacted in the past.

“Today we correct an historic injustice by granting those who care for the elderly, raise our children and clean our homes the same essential rights to which all workers should be entitled,” Governor Paterson said. “I am grateful to the sponsors for their extraordinary efforts to enact this landmark bill, and most of all to those domestic workers who dreamed, planned, organized and then fought for many years, until they were able to see an injustice undone.”

This legislation was a result of an agreement between the Governor and the Legislature and will serve as a protection for domestic workers against potential abuse and mistreatment. In addition, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will help ensure that domestic workers are provided with industry-specific protections and labor standards.

Among other provisions, this bill provides for:
•    The right to overtime pay at time and a half after 40 hours of work in a week, or 44 hours for in-home workers;
•    A day of rest every seven days, or overtime pay if it is waived;
•    Three paid days of rest annually after one year of work;
•    The removal of the domestic workers exemption from the Human Rights Law, and the creation of a special cause of action for domestic workers who suffer sexual or racial harassment;
•    The extension of statutory disability benefits to domestic workers, to the same degree as other workers; and
•    A study by the Commissioner of Labor on the practicality of extending collective bargaining rights to domestic workers.

Governor Paterson added: “I understand that similar legislation is now being considered in California. I profoundly hope that New York’s efforts in this area will serve as a national model, and remove the exclusions which have wrongly applied to this class of workers for too long.”

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More coverage: NY1 News (video), Colorlines, New York Daily News, DWU Blog, and, previous Kapor Foundation blog posts on DWU.  

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