New York State has the chance to lead the nation in extending basic workplace protections to domestic workers — the nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly who are as essential to the economy as they are overlooked and unprotected.
The State Senate has just passed a domestic workers’ bill of rights, with an array of guarantees that most workers take for granted, like paid holidays, sick days, vacation days and the right to overtime pay and collective bargaining. The Assembly passed its version last year. The Legislature should swiftly reconcile the bills and send a measure to Gov. David Paterson for his signature.
Domestic workers, like farm workers, have long struggled for equality in the workplace. Labor protections drafted in the New Deal specifically excluded both groups of workers, who remain highly vulnerable to exploitation. The problem is especially acute for domestic workers, a largely immigrant and female work force that toils out of public sight in private homes...
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