Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Domestic workers renew push for overtime pay and breaks

Domestic Workers rally at the capitol for paid breaks and overtime.
Domestic Workers rally at the capitol for paid breaks and overtime.
Julie Small/KPCC

Listen to

Download this 0MB

Domestic workers are once again pushing state lawmakers to approve a bill that would give them overtime pay and breaks. Governor Brown vetoed a similar measure last year; it's unclear what his position is this time around.

There are more than 200,000 domsetic workers in California, most of them in southern California. Amelia Bernachea of Los Angeles said she earned just $70 for a 24-hour day when she recently cared for an elderly woman with Alzheimer's.  

She cooked meals, changed linens, and repositioned the woman every couple of hours to prevent bedsores.  All the while, Bernechea said the woman screamed, "From the sun down, then the whole night and morning-she yells non-stop."

Bernachea said that made it impossible to take any breaks.  Nor did she receive overtime pay for the long hours.

Bernachea, a member of the Association of Filipino Workers, joined other domestic worker advocates at a capital rally Wednesday to support Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF) and his bill that would give them paid overtime and breaks.

Ammiano told supporters he expects the legislature to pass AB241.  It's Governor Brown he's not so sure about.

"I think our main challenge is the Governor. He didn't seem to understand this issue; he seemed to trivialize it." Ammiano said.

Governor Brown killed Ammiano's domestic worker rights bill last year.  In his veto message he said families might not be able to afford in-home care and domestic workers could lose their jobs.

Those are the same reasons the California Chamber of Commerce opposes a Domestic workers bill of rights. The chamber says it would cause "further harm" to California's economy.

But the governor left an opening in last year's veto message, supporters hope to widen.

Domestic workers, he wrote  "deserve fair pay and safe working conditions."

Ammiano said he's open to any suggestions Brown might have for the bill.