By Daniel Massey
After posing for photos with dozens of domestic workers in front of a statue of Harriet Tubman on Frederick Douglas Boulevard Tuesday morning, Gov. David Paterson and Assemblyman Keith Wright walked with the group toward a Harlem community center, where the governor signed landmark legislation that establishes basic labor protections for the state's 200,000 nannies, housekeepers and caregivers to the homebound.
On the way, Mr. Wright leaned over to his longtime buddy and told him, “This is the reason we got into public service.”
Under the law, which goes into effect in 90 days, domestic workers are guaranteed a day of rest per weekand three paid days off after a year on the job. Overtime at a rate of time-and-a-half will kick in for work on those designated days off and for work beyond 40 hours a week for live-out domestic workers and 44 hours for live-in ones.
The measure also covers domestic workers underdisability and human rights laws.The department will also hold a training session on Wednesday to bring its team of investigators up to speed on the new law, which reverses an historic omission. The National Labor Relations Act, passed in 1935 under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, excluded domestic workers, as a concession to southern senators who did not want to provide rights to a workforce that was predominantly African American.
“That changes today,” said State Sen. Diane Savino, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.