By JoAnne Powers, June 6, 2016
Over 100,000 domestic workers in California are fighting to retain their overtime pay. In 2013, the CA Domestic Workers Coalition won overtime for workers who live in the home providing care for children, the elderly or the disabled. The law is set to sunset on at the start of next year.
Maegan Ortiz is Executive Director of IDEPSCA, the Institute for Popular Education of Southern California, which does education and advocacy through four workers’ centers in Los Angeles:
[Maegan Ortiz]: “These workers are having better health outcomes; being on-call 24 hours, you can never rest properly. And we’re talking mostly about women who have their own families, who are also struggling to provide care for their own children, whether in the United States or in other countries. The ability to be paid overtime allows them to provide better for their families, but also create better relationships, make those important connections with their families. So, it’s about physical health, it’s about economic health and it’s about the social health of the family as well.”
When federal and state labor laws were originally passed, Farm workers and Domestic Workers were specifically excluded:
[Maegan Ortiz]: “In the thirties, you basically were talking about the population of domestic workers really being black women raising black families. So the specific exclusion of Domestic Workers from receiving workplace protections was really part of a larger white-supremacist system. Even though times have changed, and perhaps the face of domestic work has changed somewhat, with a lot more household workers being Latina immigrants, Filipina immigrants, a lot of the reasoning behind still leaving those out still very much stands true in the sense that we really are talking about a woman of color and immigrant workforce who’s left out of being protected.”
Workers are pinning their hopes on California Senate Bill 1015, which would make the overtime pay permanent. SB1015 has already passed out of the state senate, and is scheduled before the Assembly Labor Committee June 22nd. Ortiz expects less opposition than in 2013, much of which was concerned that paying workers the overtime they deserve would force their clients into institutions:
[Maegan Ortiz]: “This has not turned out to be the case, so right now, we’re fighting so that the bill does not sunset. There’s large support from unions on this bill. There’s large support even from homecare agencies who in the past have been against providing overtime payments. We’ve built a large coalition of household workers and employers who really see the need to make overtime for household workers permanent. We’re going to have to fight this piece by piece, overtime being the first piece of a much larger agenda to ensure labor rights parity for domestic workers in California.”