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Victory for New York Domestic Workers — and for All of Us

June 3, 2010

4914_87047528724_81389843724_1919867_1020117_nAfter six years of struggle by Domestic Workers United and their allies, the New York State Senate on June 1 passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights by a vote of 33-28. The bill requires overtime pay after eight-hour workdays and at least one day off weekly for more than 200,000 housekeepers, nannies and other domestic workers in the state.

Unlike the Assembly version, passed last year, the Senate bill also guarantees paid time off — seven sick days, six holidays and five vacation days a year. Both versions would establish collective bargaining rights. The Senate bill also would require 14-day termination notice or pay and establish a worker’s right to sue.

If Gov. David Paterson signs the measures into law, New York will become the first state guaranteeing these rights for household workers.

Ai-jen Poo directs the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which has introduced similar legislation in California and is considering measures in other states. Ai-jen sent this message:

“On the floor, the debate was a moral one – will we as a state take measures to end the exclusions that we know are wrong, or will we make excuses for the status quo that leaves out 200,000 working women of color? After 6 years of organizing by domestic workers together with unions, employers, clergy and community organizations, the NY State Senate stood on the right side of history.

It’s not over yet – the two bills still need to be reconciled, and the Governor must sign it — all within a month’s time. So we must push through to the end. But in these times, working-class victories are sacred and we should take a moment to honor them.

Here’s to the leadership of domestic workers and the undeniable power of organizing! And thank you for the many ways you helped make it happen.”

For more information, visit: domesticworkersunited.org or the group’s facebook page here.

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