NEW YORK — For more than 20 years Jacqui Orie worked as a domestic worker without protections or recourse if any of her employers ever mistreated her.
"Most of the time workers are afraid to speak up," Orie told NY1 on Thursday. "Domestic workers deserve protection, domestic workers deserve to be paid overtime, domestic workers deserve fair scheduling."
After years of organizing with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Orie watched as the City Council voted to approve legislation that will extend worker protections to domestic workers like her.
What You Need To Know
- The bill has been in the works since 2018, when it was introduced by Councilwoman Debi Rose
- The new protections will prohibit discrimination, loss of wages, wrongful termination and ensure certain accommodations at the workplace
- Advocates said they hoped New York City leads the rest of the nation in increasing domestic worker rights
"These are the people that hold families together, the domestic workers, the amazing nannies and house cleaners who make all other work possible, they take care of the economy,” Orie said. “So when I heard this, I actually teared up because we've been working so hard for this.”.
The bill has been in the works since 2018, when it was introduced by Councilwoman Debi Rose, a Democrat representing parts of Staten Island.
"This bill, which took a very long time for us to get passed, will protect over 300,000 domestic workers in New York City," Rose said.
The new protections will prohibit discrimination, loss of wages, wrongful termination and ensure certain accommodations at the workplace even for undocumented workers.
Currently, employment protections do not apply to employers with fewer than four workers, leaving out most domestic workers, an industry largely made up of women of color who are often employed as caretakers and housekeepers. Excluded from protections, they often work without benefits or any enforcement mechanism in the event of mistreatment.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed just how vulnerable these workers are.
"During the height of the pandemic there were many domestic workers who did not get time off, who did not get to stay home, did not get to shelter in place,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure they have the full protection of the law moving forward.”
Advocates said they hoped New York City leads the rest of the nation in increasing domestic worker rights.
On Thursday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The bill would extend workplace rights to 2.2 million domestic workers.
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