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Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:47pm
Mon Jul 18, 2016

Report: Legislative Advances, Setbacks For Progressives During 2016 Statehouse Sessions

A new report from the progressive State Innovation Exchange details some of the best and worst policies from this year's state legislative sessions.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:38pm
Wed Jul 13, 2016

Advocates Urge Gov. Rauner To Sign Illinois Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Illinois caregivers, housecleaners and their advocates rallied at the Thompson Center Wednesday, urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The Illinois General Assembly approved the measure during the last legislative session and sent it to the governor on June 26.

Rauner has 60 days to take action on the legislation, which would ensure that domestic workers in Illinois are paid no less than the minimum wage, receive at least one day off a week and have protections against sexual harassment.

Magdalena Zylinska is among the 35,000 estimated domestic workers in Illinois. She's a housecleaner in Chicago who organizes domestic workers with the Arise Chicago worker center.

"Since the domestic work industry is rapidly growing, and it is a very critical part of our state, I think it is a matter of urgency for this bill to pass," she said. "Also, as domestic workers, we make all other work possible. We take care of children, aging loved ones, people living with disabilities and the homes of families. We want to be recognized as real workers, and we want to be treated with respect."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:12pm
Wed May 11, 2016

Illinois Senate Passes Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Legislation to create a "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights" in Illinois passed the state Senate Wednesday, bringing caregivers and house cleaners one step closer to greater job security and improved working conditions.

The bill, which the House approved last May, now goes back to the lower chamber for a final vote, according to the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition.

The domestic workforce, mostly made up of women, has historically been excluded from protections under state and federal laws extended to workers in other industries.

The proposed "Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights Act" is meant to ensure that domestic workers in Illinois are paid no less than the minimum wage, receive at least one day off a week and have protections against sexual harassment.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:48am
Fri Nov 7, 2014

Panelists: Movement For Domestic Workers' Rights Is Growing, But Much Work Remains

The national movement to win dignity and labor protections for domestic workers is growing, but there remains much work ahead to ensure nannies, house cleaners and caregivers are guaranteed basic rights on the job.

Domestic workers, Arise Chicago organizers and author Sheila Bapat spoke on the status of the domestic worker movement at a Thursday evening panel discussion at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Gallery 400. Bapat recently wrote a book on the fight to secure rights for domestic workers.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:19pm
Mon Mar 24, 2014

Report: Pending SCOTUS Ruling Could Shake Movement To Unionize In-Home Workers

A pending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could have big ramifications for the ability of home-based child care workers to organize.

The outcome of the Harris v. Quinn case would particularly impact home-based child care workers that receive state funding, affecting how and if they are able to effectively unionize and collectively bargain, argues a new report by the Washington, DC-based National Women’s Law Center.

The report offers a snapshot of the growing national movement to unionize in-home child care providers, who are overwhelmingly female, are often paid low wages and usually do not get benefits. Home-based child care workers at publicly-funded operations in 14 states, including Illinois, have won the right to organize and negotiate with states. That's up from just seven states in 2007, when the law center issued its first report on the issue. 

More recently, home-based child care providers who receive state funding in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island won organizing and bargaining rights. But in places like Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin, home-based child care workers have seen their authority to organize and negotiate with their respective states revoked over the past few years.

The report noted that the push to unionize home-based child care providers has faced increased opposition, mostly related to the broader anti-union movement.

"It's not as though what we're seeing is something specific to this group of providers, but rather much more conservative legislatures and governors taking office and pushing legislation that would curtail the rights of unions, both in the private and public sector in some cases," explained Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the National Women's Law Center.

And the Supreme Court's pending ruling in the Pamela Harris v. Pat Quinn case, which centers around home-based health care aides in Illinois, could potentially mean another major setback for in-home child care providers as well as other home care workers.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:21pm
Tue Oct 1, 2013

New Protections For Home Health Workers Paves Way For Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new regulations that would grant millions of in-home health care workers the right to a minimum wage and overtime pay as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Under the Labor Department's new rule, which takes effect January 1, 2015, nearly 2 million workers who provide direct in-home assistance to the elderly and those with disabilities, illnesses or injuries would be entitled to the same basic labor protections most American workers already receive. 

Since 1974, direct care workers have been excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime laws after being put into a "companion services" category, which is the same as babysitters and is a group that is exempt from such protections.

Illinois, along with 14 other states, however, already extend state minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers, so the new rule won't have as big of an impact in the Prairie State as compared to others.

Nonetheless, Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said the new regulations are a crucial step forward in the effort to stabilize a rapidly-growing workforce comprised of mainly women, particularly women of color and immigrants.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:58pm
Wed Apr 24, 2013

Domestic Workers' Bill Of Rights Expected To Go Up For Vote In Illinois Senate Thursday

A measure that would recognize the legal rights of domestic workers in Illinois is expected to go up for a vote in the state Senate Thursday.

The Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights Act, SB 1708, sponsored by State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago), would require that employers of nannies, house cleaners and caregivers pay their workers no less than the  minimum wage and allow for a least one day off a week.

The measure, which has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, would also require written contracts and guarantee the right to paid time off, pay for all work hours, meal and rest periods, and an environment free from sexual harassment.

“It’s basically time to really cut some of the last remaining, obvious cords connected to slavery that we still have,” said Eric Rodriguez, executive director of the Latino Union of Chicago, one of the lead organizations pushing for the bill.

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