California Sen. Kamala Harris and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced legislation this week to provide domestic workers basic protections and a legal outlet to respond to harassment and discrimination.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a statement that the bill would make sure domestic workers – “who perform some of society’s most important work” – are treated with dignity and respect.
“This bill would close legal loopholes that deny domestic workers basic federal labor and civil rights protections,” Saunders said. “It would also make job conditions safer and fairer for a workforce that is primarily made up of women, people of color and immigrants.”
Domestic work can range from housekeeping, child care, security work or even gardening occupations. Generally, these roles are unregistered and unregulated, with no federal security of minimum wage and health care.
The legislation, called the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, would ensure “that rights aren’t just on paper, but that they can be enforced and implemented” legally and in ways to decrease retaliation.
The numbers of domestic workers is growing rapidly in the U.S., with eight states and Seattle having already passed local versions of this bill. There are approximately 2.5 million domestic workers across the country, and about 90% of them are women, most being immigrants or women of color. For decades, a majority of these women have had to work in unsafe conditions that left them vulnerable to exploitation with little to no legal recourse.
Jayapal and Harris introduced the bill to bring the protections domestic workers enjoy in their own states to the federal level for the first time.
By 2026, caregivers, nannies and elderly care providers will be among some of the fastest growing occupations in the country. AFSCME stands behind these workers.