LOS ANGELES – On Wednesday, the California legislatures passed a bill that would provide caregivers and domestic workers overtime pay, meal and rest breaks and other labor protections.
The assembly passed AB241 (The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights) with a 41-24 vote on May 29. It now moves to the senate.
“We are really excited. We are one step closer to passing this bill,” said Aquilina Soriano, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center.
There are around 200,000 domestic workers in the state, tens of thousands of whom are Filipinos. Many are caregivers, nannies, and housekeepers.
This is the third time a bill for the benefit of domestic workers has been introduced in the state legislature. The two previous times the bill has reached the governor, only for it to be vetoed.
In 2006, a similar bill passed the state legislature before then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.
Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill (AB 889) due to affordability issues.
Republican Assemblyman Brian Jones of Santee brought the issue up again, saying the bill would make in-home help unaffordable for all but the wealthy, the Associated Press reports.
This time around, though, things were different.
Soriano explained that during the first attempt, when Gov.Schwarzenegger was in office, there was no way the governor was going to support it.
The second time, the bill passed but there were legitimate concerns about affordability, overtime pay and other important issues, she said.
“This time around we’re working much more closely with the governor’s office and providing the questions they have with the bill and the industry,” said Soriano. “We’re educating the governor about this issue.”
“Now, the bill has been narrowed and there’s more flexibility,” she added.
Soriano said she’s “very positive” the bill will pass this year.
“It would be a historic victory because having the same rights as other workers will not only improve conditions in the work place but helps transform how domestic workers are viewed. They are not servants, they are workers who deserve equal rights as well,” she said.
(LA Weekend June 1-4, 2013 Sec. A pg.1)
This article was originally printed on the Asian Journal website on June 1, 2013.