The bill, which would guarantee domestic workers basic workplace rights like paid vacation and sick days, overtime pay, and at least one day off per week, was passed by the New York State Senate by a vote of 33-28. Though the legislation still has to be reconciled with an earlier version that was passed by the Assembly last year, and then signed into law by Governor Paterson, yesterday's vote in the bill's favor was a historic achievement, setting the stage for the passage of similar bills in states like California and Colorado.
Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), described yesterday's debate at the statehouse in these terms:
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 New York State Senate stood on the right side of history.It's an amazing achievement for Ms. Foundation grantees NDWA and Domestic Workers United, and the thousands of domestic workers they represent in New York -- and nationwide. The work's not yet over -- in the next month there will will be much to do to ensure that the bills are indeed reconciled and then set on Governor Paterson's desk -- but this is a victory worth cheering about.
As Ai-jen Poo put it: "Here's to the leadership of domestic workers and the undeniable power of organizing!" We couldn't say it any better.
Photo: by Elizabeth Rappaport. (detail) Domestic Workers United March, New York City, October 2008.