By Abner Galino
THE Pilipino Workers Center recently joined domestic workers, particularly caregivers and nannies, in celebrating another victory in their continuing fight for better pay and better working conditions.
The celebration was over the passage of AB 2314, also known as The Domestic Work Rights and Education Act, which passed the California Senate last August 23.
The bill is now awaiting the signature of California Governor Jerry Brown.
The Pilipino Workers Center is part of the California Domestic Worker Coalition that crafted and lobbied for the passage of the proposed law.
When signed into law, AB 2314 will establish a program within the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement that will promote the implementation of labor standards for the domestic work industry.
The said program will also provide resources, education and training for domestic workers and their employers.
There are over 300,000 workers in California who work as cleaners, nannies and caregivers in nearly two million households.
Domestic workers are historically excluded from most labor protections and as well as from legislated compensations.
The current climate of escalated attacks on immigrants disproportionately impacts domestic workers — a labor force comprised primarily of immigrant women.
Advocates noted that many of these domestic workers are breadwinners to their families.
According to a handout sent out by advocates, AB2314 builds on SB54 & AB450 by seeking to uplift and protect the primarily immigrant workforce.
Advocates noted that “domestic work is unique, violations are frequent, and domestic workers face multiple barriers to enforcing their rights.”
Domestic worker organizations reported that “frequent violations of wage and hour laws and a strong trend of under-reporting of violations among workers.”
Among the reasons cited for these violations were “lack of clear and basic information on their rights especially given the complexity of the law, language barriers, immigration status, fear of job loss and blacklisting, and lack of job security.”
Sponsored by Assembly members Philip Ting and Gonzales Fletcher, when passed into law, it will be added as Section 1455 to the California Labor Code, and will read as follows:
(a) The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement shall, upon appropriation of funds to the division for purposes of this section, establish and maintain a Domestic Work Enforcement Pilot Program in collaboration with qualified organizations. The program shall increase the capacity and expertise of the division to improve education and enforcement of labor standards in the domestic work industry.
The program shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) Education and training for domestic work employees and employers addressing minimum wage, overtime, sick leave, record keeping, wage adjudication, and retaliation.
(2) Training for domestic worker leaders to provide peer-to-peer support and wraparound service referrals to domestic work employees who have elected to file wage claims or take other actions seeking remedy from employers.
(3) Development of core training curriculum to be used in the education and training of domestic work employees and employers.
(4) Provision of technical and legal assistance to domestic work employees through a statewide telephone help line and the promotion of the help line to domestic worker populations.
(5) Development of an online resource hub to provide information for employers on state labor laws and guidelines on fair employment.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “qualified organization” means:
(1) A nonprofit organization that has a minimum of five years of experience working with domestic work employees or employers.
(2) An organization that works with a nonprofit organization that has a minimum of five years of experience working with domestic work employees or employers.
(c) Qualified organizations that collaborate under subdivision (a) shall issue reports and meet quarterly with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to review the implementation and success of the program.