Advocates rally to make overtime pay for domestic workers permanent

IN commemoration of Mother’s Day, labor organizations, domestic workers and their advocates demonstrated Monday, May 9, at Los Angeles City Hall’s South Steps to support a bill that would make overtime pay permanent for domestic workers.

Members of the California Domestic Workers Coalition, which seeks to advance dignity and respect for domestic workers and their families, on Monday gave testimonies supporting the passage of the bill, SB1015.

“[It’s] really important that we are creating a society that is really creating dignity and respect for all,” said Aquilina Soriano Versoza, executive director of Pilipino Workers Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving Filipino workers that is part of the coalition.

Domestic workers are currently granted overtime pay under AB241, a measure signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013. The law, however, is set to expire in 2017.

Filipino domestic worker Emiy Uy touted the passage of AB241 on Monday at City Hall, citing how the pay she received as a caregiver prior to that bill made it difficult for her to make ends meet. She also said employers have justified not paying domestic workers overtime because they sleep during their shifts.

“There is no such thing as straight, uninterrupted sleep because during the night, our ears are open wide for us to hear the tiny sounds when our consumers wake up, or cry in the middle of the night because they have a nightmare. Or they call us out because they want their back scratched or they need to go to the bathroom or … want to talk to us,” she said.

SB 1015, authored by state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), would eliminate the sunset provision of AB241 and make overtime pay for domestic workers permanent.

“[As] caregivers, as home care workers, we are here to support SB1015 so that we will gain our dignity like every other worker who [is] being paid the minimum wage and the overtime wage,” Uy said.

On April 28, Leyva’s bill was approved by the Senate and is now awaiting approval from the Assembly.

In a statement, Leyva thanked the California Domestic Workers Coalition for its continued advocacy and commitment to the issue.

“I am pleased that SB 1015 passed from the Senate since it reaffirms our commitment to improved dignity and respect for domestic workers. The work that domestic workers perform every day in homes across California helps to improve the lives of countless individuals, families and communities,” she said.

Also in attendance at Monday’s demonstration were domestic worker employees, and individuals involved with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and the UCLA labor center, among others.

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