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  • IL Bill To Expand Workers Protections To Domestic Workers Still Awaits Governor's Signature
    Posted On: Jul 21, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, July 22, 2016

    A bill to guarantee basic labor protections to roughly 35,000 domestic workers in Illinois is currently awaiting a decision from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.  The bill would guarantee domestic workers at least the minimum wage, protect against sexual harassment on the job and include the right to one day of rest if they work more than 20 hours.  The Illinois Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights also defines what domestic workers are and creates a floor of protections for nannies, housecleaners, home care workers, cooks, and chauffeurs.

    Anna Jakubek, a domestic worker organizer with non-profit worker center Arise Chicago, says that Domestic Workers have  been historically excluded from basic workers’ rights:

    [Anna Jakubek]: “Minimum wage is not covered.  Simile human rights are not covered for domestic workers.  The bill is taking all exclusions, so domestic workers have minimum wage and have one day of rest in seven days of work…very basic things.”

    After a second 2-year legislative session, the bill passed out of both houses and went to the governor’s desk on June 28th

    [Anna Jakubek]: “Technically from now we have 45 days more for the governor to make a decision.  We have no opposition, and the Department of Labor is neutral: doesn’t see any problems with the fiscal issues, doesn’t see any problems for enforcement as well.  We brought to them information from New York, who implemented this kind of bill in 2010, to just prove that there are not major changes in existing laws like minimum wage or wage theft protections that will be implemented toward domestic workers as well.”

    If Illinois' anti-union governor can be persuaded to sign the bill, Illinois would become the 7th state to expand labor protections to include domestic workers.  The others are Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, and Hawaii.  Jakubek is optimistic about the bill’s chances

    [Anna Jakubek]: “We finally get out from both houses and we have supermajority in both of them.  We still have to go back to the houses and vote it against the veto, but we would like not to do that.  Especially that we have some Republicans voting for us.  So, we feel that we shouldn’t have big problem, but…you never know.”

    Jakubek says that the need for domestic worker protections is actually growing:

    [Anna Jakubek]: “Ever six seconds somebody turns 65 years in United States, so that gives Illinois 10,000 people daily turning 65.  I’m not saying all of them will need care work, but demand is growing for caregivers, and they are domestic workers.  And not mentioning the cleaners and nannies when that’s something else that is needed: changing the face of that work, so a domestic worker in the household is not luxury anymore, is necessity, and if we think that way maybe we’ll be able to move that bill forward.”


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