TheThe National Domestic Workers Alliance sent 1,000 sponges to Governor Jerry Brown in Oakland, California, calling for him to clean up his act after bowing to pressures from big business and the Chamber of Commerce to veto the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. PHOTO: National Domestic Workers alliance

PHOTO: National Domestic Workers Alliance

Photo: National Domestic Workers AlliancePHOTO: National Domestic Workers Alliance

A kid speaks for the rights of domestic workers at an August 2012 rally in Sacramento, CA.
A kid speaks for the rights of domestic workers at an August 2012 rally in Sacramento, CA. PHOTO: CA Domestic Workers

Photo: CA Domestic WorkersPHOTO: CA Domestic Workers

Photo: CA Domestic Workers
PHOTO: CA Domestic Workers

By THEO PYROS, age 10 and GEORGIA REED-STAMM, age 9

Domestic workers in New York won their bill of rights in 2010 but nannies, housekeepers and elder caregivers around the United States are still fighting for basic labor rights. Allison Julien, a nanny and organizer for Domestic Workers United and Rachel McCullough, a domestic workers advocate, spoke with IndyKids reporters about why domestic workers need help.

Many domestic workers are verbally, mentally and physically abused, working long hours for low pay. Sometimes, they are given very little time off.

Originally from Barbados, Julien worked as a nanny in New York for more than 20 years. “When I got the flu from children I take care of, I took two days off,” said Julien. “But my employers said, ‘why did you take those days off?’ And they refused to pay me.”

The New York Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights gave some rights to the workers. It established an eight-hour work day as a legal day’s work. Workers are allowed one day of rest per week. After one year of employment, workers are entitled to three paid days off.

Advocates are trying to pass bill of rights laws in other states and further improve the law in New York.

In California, a bill was almost passed but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it on September 30, 2012.

Jennifer Barrera, who works for California’s Chamber of Commerce, protested the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. As she told the Huffington Post, the domestic workers’ bill would have put a “burden onto working families who are struggling, I’m sure, to already afford a nanny.”

McCullough, an organizer for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and who was cared for by a loving nanny as child, disagrees. She said, “I think that the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights provides very necessary minimum standards. For the first time ever, the bill recognized this work as real and valuable work. I think that’s a pretty big deal!”

Kids have been helping by joining organizations and even advocating for their own babysitters.

“I don’t think it’s fair that some babysitters aren’t treated fairly,” Donna Schneiderman, a girl who had a babysitter for 10 years, said in a testimony. “I think it’s important for kids to know about domestic workers’ rights because a lot of the kids I know have babysitters and they should be aware of how some babysitters are being treated.”

What Kids Can Do to Help Support the Domestic Worker Campaign:

By Zipporah Cruz age 10

Kids can help domestic workers by writing to their local congressmen directly, asking them to help support the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in their state. Another way kids can help is by par- ticipating in the annual “A Wish for the Holidays” letter writing campaign, spearheaded by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Their goal this year is to send 20,000 letters to congress asking for them to support laws that help protect the rights of domestic workers. Kids can also join #BeTheHelp, a national campaign started on Twitter to show support for domestic workers’ rights. Also, talk to your friends and teachers to help spread the word about supporting the rights of domestic workers.

For more information and ideas you can go to www.domesticworkers.org/campaigns.

PHOTO: Flickr/Confetti
PHOTO: Flickr/Confetti

‘New Day New Standard’ is a public art and interactive hotline created by REV and Domestic Workers United that informs nannies, housekeepers, elder caregivers and their employers about the landmark Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, passed in New York State in November 2010.“‘New Day New Standard’ is a public art and interactive hotline created by REV and Domestic Workers United that informs nannies, housekeepers, elder caregivers and their employers about the landmark Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, passed in New York State in November 2010.

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