Gray Panthers of San Francisco
October 2006 Newsletter

Justice for Domestic Workers


Justice for Domestic Workers

At our March General Meeting, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) talked of SF’s gentrified future: struggle between elite executives, lawyers and scientists versus their servants in hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and domestic service. POWER’s strategy is to concentrate on fighting for marginalized and isolated domestic workers.

POWER’s surveys show that domestic workers, largely immigrant minority women, suffer low wages, suffer forced overtime so their own families are neglected, and suffer non-payment of hours already worked. They support an average of two adults and two children. Large numbers live in poverty. State law excludes domestic workers and agricultural workers from the rights to overtime pay that other workers have.

In response, POWER, Mujeres Unidas, and similar groups in Los Angeles are promoting legislation granting domestic workers overtime pay rights, and the right to sue for unpaid wages.

AB 2536 (Montanez) gives overtime pay to personal attendants caring for children who are hired by private individuals or agencies. The bill also gives a wider group of domestic workers the right to sue employers for unpaid wages and also fines such employers. AB 2536 has undergone many modifications to accommodate disabled people who cannot afford to pay overtime to their personal attendants. SF Gray Panthers is supporting this legislation, though both we and the sponsors agree it is a small step toward justice for domestic workers. The sponsors are also meeting with disability groups for more state funding of in-home help for low-income disabled persons.

The bill has passed both houses, and awaits the Governor’s signature.

(back to October 2006 Newsletter front page)