Trenton, New Jersey.- By Virgilio Aran
On October 17, 2022, the State and Local Government Committee, presided over by chairman Anthony Verrelli, overwhelmingly voted 3-1 to pass the New Jersey Domestic Bill of Rights, which seeks to eliminate the exclusion of domestic workers from basic labor protections.
This bill, introduced in the assembly by Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake and in the Senate by Senator Richard Codey, is the effort of thousands of domestic workers in New Jersey to raise workplace standards. More than 70 domestic workers attended the New Jersey State Assembly hearing on the New Jersey Domestic Bill of Rights as one of the most important labor and civic bills that would impact the lives of over 50,000 domestic workers.
As Many speakers testified in support of the bill. Evelyn Saz, former home care worker and an organizer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance pointed out, “the NJ Domestic Bill of Rights is a movement to ensure the dignity of domestic workers in the workplace and that it is time for New Jersey to end the exclusion of domestic workers in the law which open the doors for employers to mistreat this workforce.” Bimala Timilsina Regmi, a Nepali domestic worker and a member of the organization Adhikaar, testified about the abuses she endured as a domestic worker when she was forced to work ten consecutive hours without breaks and how she was not allowed to take a day off for a medical appointment.
Steve Way, an American actor, comedian, and domestic worker-employer, testified on the critical work domestic workers perform in our society and how important it is for New Jersey to pass the Domestic Bill of Rights. Jaqueline Quiles from the office of the Mayor of Newark, Ras J Baraka, testified on the key role domestic workers play in New Jersey and the importance of passing the NJ Domestic Bill of Rights as a recognition of the work they do. After years of domestic worker organizing, today marked an important step towards ensuring that all working people are treated with dignity and respect on the job. The NJ Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will now go before the Budget Committee in the Assembly, and the Labor Committee in the Senate.
The movement of domestic workers is gearing up for the next steps in the assembly and the senate. NJ Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would: Establish contracts between an employer and a domestic worker, documenting work hours, wages, and duties. Eliminate the safety and health exclusion to ensure safe and secure workplaces. Guarantee a two-week termination policy that provides adequate notice for domestic workers. Protect against threatening workers for their immigration status and restrictions against retaliation from an employer when a worker asserts their rights. Provide privacy and anti-trafficking protections to ensure workers are allowed freedom in their communication and private housing outside of work. Provide paid rest periods and meal breaks after working a certain number of consecutive hours, as well as a clause that a worker is not required to work more than six days for the same employer without a rest period.
The New Jersey Domestic Workers Coalition includes: Adhikaar, Casa Freehold, Lazos de America, NDWA (National Domestic Workers Alliance), New Labor, Unidad Latina en Acción, Wind of the Spirit, 32 BJ, SEIU State Council, 1199 SEIU, Faith New Jersey, Latino Action Network Foundation, Make the Road, Time to Care Coalition, NDLON, and more than 84 organizations across New Jersey.
National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by over 60 affiliate organizations, local chapters, and a growing membership base of nannies, house cleaners, and care workers in over 20 states.
NDWA has created Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits not otherwise granted, in addition to proposing a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights with Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Learn more about the domestic workers’ movement on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.