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Change begins at home -- and on the floor of Congress

Change is in the air. Millions of Americans elected a Congress full of new, diverse voices and a historic nu...

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 5:06 PM
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 5:06 PM

Change is in the air. Millions of Americans elected a Congress full of new, diverse voices and a historic number of women. They voted for policies that will make our nation more inclusive and democratic. Together, we turned a critical page, and now we can turn our attention to a critical issue for all of us -- our families and homes.

Every day, Americans turn to a domestic worker for care inside their homes. Who are domestic workers? They are the nanny we entrust with our children when we go to work, the housecleaner who brings order to our home, and home care worker who ensures our elders age with dignity. Too often invisible, they are the stitch that holds together a society rich with family bonds, and they make it possible for millions of working families to participate in our economy.

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While domestic workers have always been a critical part of our economy, their importance is increasing. By 2026, care jobs will constitute one of the fastest growing professions in the country, and we will need more caregivers and nannies than we have ever needed before. But if those jobs operate then as they do now, they'll be done by some of our least visible and most vital workers -- domestic workers. This is an opportunity to create change that will not only define our economy, but who we are as a nation in the years to come.

For generations, domestic work -- traditionally performed mostly by women of color and immigrants -- has been overlooked and devalued, even in moments when other workers achieved hard-won gains. When the workplace protections of the New Deal were passed in the 1930s, Southern legislators demanded that farmworkers and domestic workers be excluded from its guarantees for most workers of a minimum wage, overtime protections, and the right to organize and form a union.

When the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 -- including Title VII, which prohibits workplace harassment and discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin -- it excluded workplaces with fewer than 15 employees, which describes the working environment of almost all domestic workers. And when the Occupational Health and Safety Act was signed into law in 1970 to "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women," once again, domestic workers were left out.

Keeping domestic workers in the shadows isn't just wrong -- it holds back our economy. Roughly 10,000 Americans currently turn 65 each day. At the same time, many of the women who traditionally provided home care are joining the workforce, leaving families to turn to professional caregivers. Currently, most domestic workers still only earn $11 an hour or less, and almost all go without healthcare or retirement benefits. If we don't make care jobs good jobs, economist Paul Osterman estimates that we'll have a national shortage of 350,000 paid care providers by 2040. That could be 350,000 families who won't be able to participate fully in the economy because they can't find the support they need.

To address these shortcomings, eight states, as well as the city of Seattle, have passed laws to protect and strengthen domestic work. And the impact has been immense. In California, home to more than 300,000 domestic workers, women like Emily Uy were able to receive overtime pay for the first time. Emily has been a live-in care worker for nearly a decade, but was paid only $100 per day for 24 hours of work. As a breast cancer survivor, she could hardly make ends meet for herself and her family back in the Philippines. The new overtime protections made Emily's life more stable and secure, and helped her client to receive an even higher quality of care and support.

While these state-level laws make an important impact, they're certainly not enough to raise standards for the entire sector. There still are many states where domestic workers have very limited or nonexistent protections. For domestic workers like June Barrett, a Jamaican home care worker who lives in Florida, the state laws on the books do not do enough to protect her against sexual harassment and discrimination. In some instances, she has had clients and their family members call her racial slurs. She was even sexually harassed by a client on a daily basis for three months, and she couldn't report or do anything out of fear of losing her job and her only income.

That's why in this new Congress, we intend to introduce a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, because the time has come to ensure that protections and benefits give all domestic workers the respect and dignity they deserve.

This Bill of Rights would close legal loopholes excluding domestic workers from certain federal labor and civil rights laws. The legislation would also create meal and rest breaks, and establish fair scheduling practices, as well as strengthening support networks for domestic workers who are survivors of workplace sexual harassment and assault. It would include grants for domestic worker training programs and calls for paid sick days, affordable health care and retirement savings, whether the worker is employed by a big company or an individual household. It would strengthen rules to prevent employers from retaliating against workers for reporting problems or violations of rights. And, finally, it would create a new federal task force to enforce domestic workers' rights.

This Bill of Rights is intended to be more than an extension of our current workplace protections for domestic workers. We see it as a statement of our collective values as Americans, a statement on how we respect all working people, regardless of whether they work in an office or in a home. We're creating a future where we can all make the best choices for our families, enabling our seniors to age gracefully in place and parents to return to work when they are ready, with the support of workers who are treated with dignity. Passing this Bill of Rights will demonstrate that domestic work is not only work, but work that is critical to our economy and society.

The change that is in the air today is contagious. We must extend protections to those who have been silenced and overlooked for decades. Because it's not just what we do in the public eye that matters, but what we do behind closed doors -- and change begins at home.

We have the chance to change the game for millions. Let's get this done.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Cottonwood820
Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
Goodhue736
Otter Tail731
Chisago691
Polk632
Itasca5610
Dodge540
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur471
Douglas460
Meeker460
Becker440
Jackson420
Murray410
McLeod410
Isanti360
Pennington300
Waseca290
Mille Lacs241
Rock230
Faribault220
Wabasha200
Swift191
Beltrami180
Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Rochester
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