Key things to know ahead of today's Seattle City Council vote on groundbreaking Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
Nannies & house cleaners are making history today: Seattle City Council is set to vote on a municipal Domestic Workers Bill of Rights which ends the exclusion of nannies & house cleaners from the basic rights and benefits every worker needs. The groundbreaking law establishes a new model of worker power — a first-in-the-nation Domestic Workers Standards Board, which empowers workers & employers to come together to effectively set industry standards on wages, benefits, training, and other issues.
Here are the key things to know ahead of the vote:
- What is happening: The full City Council will vote on a groundbreaking Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. We expect a substantial amount of public comment at the start of the meeting from domestic workers and supporters.
- When is it happening: The vote is set for TODAY, Monday, July 23rd, beginning at 2pm at Seattle City Hall. The meeting will be simulcast online at seattlechannel.org.
- What does it do: The Domestic Worker Bill of Rights ensures nannies, house cleaners, and other domestic workers get the basic rights and benefits every worker needs, including a voice in their work. It ends the exclusion of this workforce from basic labor standards, provides important new rights and protections, and establishes a new model of worker power — a Domestic Workers Standards Board. We have a 1-pager on the Bill of Rights here, and the full ordinance is available as well.
- What's the big deal: The groundbreaking Domestic Workers Standards Board empowers workers & employers in this diffuse, invisible workforce to come together to effectively set industry standards on wages, benefits, training, and other issues. The law mandates that the standards board will address wages, portable benefits, hiring agreements, training, paid time off, outreach & enforcement, and other issues as they arise. And it gives the board real power by requiring City Council to act on the board’s recommendations within 120 days of when they're made.
- What will the day look like: Domestic workers and community supporters will provide public comment about their experiences and offer their support. We will ensure this formerly invisible workforce is seen and heard at City Hall.
- Do you have pictures: Photos and video of various campaign activities are available here on dropbox and released for use.
- How did we get here: Nannies, house cleaners, and other domestic workers with Working Washington, Casa Latina, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance have been organizing for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights for more than a year. They hosted a campaign kick-off on December 7, 2017, published a report and built a diaper and glove display at City Hall on March 15, 2018, and celebrated the introduction of legislation by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda with an event on June 21, 2018.
- Do you have data: We issued a report in March that includes survey data on the issues facing domestic workers in Seattle. Home Equity: Inequality and Exclusions Facing Domestic Workers in Seattle found that half of surveyed domestic workers did not receive overtime pay, four in ten did not receive paid sick days, and 85% did not receive workers’ compensation benefits if they were injured at work. More than one in three surveyed workers are paid in cash, and sixteen percent of surveyed workers who raised concerns about working conditions report facing retaliation from their employers.
What do workers & employers have to say about all this:
“Nannies & house cleaners in Seattle are making history today. After more than a year of organizing with Working Washington, they're poised to win a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights which includes a groundbreaking Domestic Worker Standards Board — a first-in-the-nation new model of worker power being led by women and people of color who have been too long denied their basic rights on the job.” — Rachel Lauter, Executive Director, Working Washington and Fair Work Center.
“I’ve worked as a live-in nanny in Green Lake for years. With my current family, I have traveled all over the world and they have always treated me as a part of the family. But it’s also a job, and we need to set boundaries and separate feelings from work. We need to learn to stand up for ourselves. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights will help make this happen by including live-in workers and establishing a Standards Board where we can come together.” — Maria Flores, nanny
"I have previously employed nannies, I currently employ house cleaners, and in the near future I will most likely be employing caregivers for my mother. As an employer, I am committed to treating the workers I hire with the utmost dignity and respect. That said, I myself need help to make sure that I'm complying with workplace standards and not just my own subjective definition of what's fair. That's why I strongly support the Domestic Workers' Ordinance, which will provide the clear guidance that employers like myself need." — Jen Soriano, employer of domestic workers
“It’s so important that nannies are able to set standards together with employers. Last fall I worked for a family that didn’t treat it like a two way street. They asked me to care for their elderly father, as if I was a certified home care worker. They expected me to be a full time cleaner during their vacation getaways. And they didn’t respect my time either — when I worked over 50 hours, they only submitted 40 hours worked, claiming I was salaried to avoid paying overtime. There are a lot of good employers out there, but this kind of thing shouldn’t happen to anyone in our field. It’s not allowed in other workforces, and it shouldn’t be allowed in ours.” — Michelle Manney, nanny
“The timing of the Domestic Workers’ Ordinance is critically important because it provides an opportunity for Seattle to offer a different vision and attitude towards labor rights, immigration, women, children, and people of color than what we see coming out of Washington. This movement is about creating a better environment for the most left behind members of our population, those who provide the care and those who receive the care. It is about how our priorities shift when women and workers have a voice and a hand in shaping policy. The Seattle Nanny Network will continue to lead by example. We are excited by the opportunity presented by the Domestic Work Standards Board to propose further worker protections and identify simple and realistic avenues for employers to offer caregivers’ the benefits they deserve.” — Emily Dills, Seattle Nanny Network (an employment agency)
The Seattle Domestic Workers Alliance (SDWA) unites nannies, house cleaners, and other domestic workers across Seattle. Workers have established SDWA a project of Working Washington, with support from Casa Latina, SEIU 775, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington: firstname.lastname@example.org
Working Washington is the voice for workers in our state. Working Washington fast food strikers sparked the fight that won Seattle’s first-in-the-nation $15 minimum wage. Working Washington baristas and fast food workers led the successful campaign for secure scheduling in Seattle, and our members across the state helped drive forward Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick days. We successfully drove Amazon to sever ties with the right-wing lobby group ALEC and improve conditions in their sweatshop warehouses, and got Starbucks to address inequities in their corporate parental leave policy. And we made history once again with the landmark statewide paid family leave law passed last year. For more information, including our press kit, visit workingWA.org.