The cost of living for the Meg Whitmans of the world might become much more expensive. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) announced today that he is introducing legislation to improve the lives of domestic workers in the state.
The bill, which is being cosponsored by V. Manuel Perez (D-Coachella), proposes regulating the wages, hours, and working conditions of the mostly underground workforce who cook, clean, and help raise the children of thousands of Californians. It even requires that employers pay -- gasp -- overtime.
And if you decide that you can no longer afford your nanny under the new regulations, then you have to give him or her 21 days notice before firing him or her.
California bill will include provisions for designated meal and rest periods for
domestic workers, as well as minimum wage, annual pay increases, paid vacation, and paid
sick days -- all of which they currently don't get. And live-in nannies will get to sleep comfortably like the rest of the family; the new bill mandates proper living conditions for them.
Essentially, it formalizes an industry that truly keeps our society afloat. Ammiano's spokesman Quentin Mecke says that if the bill passes, there would be a huge public education campaign so employers know the new rules before they get hit with fines.
Meg Whitman had to pay $5,500 in back wages to her former housekeeper, whom she fired after learning she was undocumented.The housekeeper, Nicki Santillan, put the spotlight on Whitman's immigration policies during her campaign for governor when she retained high-powered attorney Gloria Allred and went public saying she was unfairly fired without proper wages.
"Regardless of the politics around that," Mecke says, "I think it's a symbol of exactly what can happen when there's no regulation. Regardless of who you believe, there was a clear misunderstanding about the rights and the money that was owed."
This is the state's latest attempt to extend workers' rights to employees who are typically getting paid under the table. Often, these workers are undocumented immigrants. Last
year, California legislators passed the nation's first farmworkers'
rights bill to mandate overtime pay for agriculture workers, who've long
been exempt from state labor laws concerning overtime. But former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill,
saying it would be burdensome to the agriculture industry, which had
argued that it would increase their labor costs by 10 percent.
see if such a bill will have any better luck getting past Gov. Jerry Brown.
As Whitman learned, paying domestic workers fair wages is probably cheaper than paying their lawyer's fees.
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