Victory for Domestic Workers in California

Bend the Arc
September 29, 2013
Alan van Capelle

On Thursday, September 26, Governor Brown signed The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law in California. Leaders and supporters from Bend the Arc helped make the difference.

This landmark labor law extends the most basic labor protection of overtime pay to the 200,000 domestic workers in California who maintain our homes, care for our children, and enable seniors and people with disabilities to live independently and with dignity.

We celebrate this historic victory, both for domestic workers and for the vision of an economy where all workers are treated with respect and dignity. We congratulate our allies and friends at the CA Domestic Workers Coalition and honor the leadership of the domestic workers who fought courageously for this win.

Right on the heels of our recent victory to extend labor protections to all homecare workers on the federal level, one thing is clear: you are helping Bend the Arc and our partners win a sea change in the visibility and dignity of an entire sector of previously invisible workers. That’s no small feat.

Lots of work went into this victory. Here are my top 3 lessons from this win as we move forward with our other campaigns for equality and justice in California and across the country. 

1. When we raise our voice through Bend the Arc it matters.

Signatures for Gov Brown

Last week we delivered your signatures to Governor Brown’s office, calling on him to sign the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. We also sent him a special pen, imprinted with this message: “This pen has power to correct injustice.” Indeed, it did.

2. It matters where the Jewish Community stands. 

Rabbi Jim Kaufman speaks at a domestic workers rally in Sacramento

It makes a powerful statement when Jews are strong partners in struggles for justice and equality. Our elected leaders take notice, as do leading newspapers like the SF Chronicle. (Pictured: Rabbi Jim Kaufman of Bend the Arc Southern California speaking at a rally in Sacramento.) 

3. Some victories take time. It’s worth it. 

Domestic workers at a press conference in 2011

Even in today’s polarized political climate, workers can organize and win the fight for labor protections, but it takes persistence and tenacity. Two and a half years ago Bend the Arc members in Southern California voted to join this campaign. Dozens of marches, rallies, legislative visits, call-in days, and petitions later, the value of the hard work of our grassroots leaders and staff is incredibly clear. At Bend the Arc, we’re in it for the long haul.