Good News for Domestic Workers in Massachusetts

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Due to organizing efforts by domestic workers and employers, 67,000 employees in Massachusetts could very well get some new, much-needed improvements to their working conditions.

Last week we told you about the struggles that domestic workers undergo to care for their loved ones, and it seems, in Massachusetts at least, workers have begun to come together to push for fairer conditions.

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights yesterday. Once the bill is reconciled with a similar bill in the House and signed by the governor, it will guarantee that 67,000 workers get a day off every week, breaks to eat and rest, and unpaid maternity leave.

Fortunately, the bill seems poised to become law.  “We expect the House to be just fine because they already passed the exact same language,” Lydia Edwards, Massachusetts coordinator for the National Domestic Workers Alliance said.

The passing of the bill in the Senate is the primary result of the organizing work that domestic workers and employers did on the ground.  Workers and other community members joined together to speak directly with Republicans about the bill of rights.

The bill itself is a small but important step towards improving the lives of domestic workers, many of whom are underpaid and overworked.

For example, although a guaranteed day off may not seem like much, domestic workers deal with tight schedules that often make it difficult to care for their loved ones.

The bill, if passed, will make it mandatory for employees working more than 16 hours a week to have written contracts. Currently, only 8 percent of workers have written contracts, meaning that the parameters of their jobs aren’t clearly defined or documented.

And despite the long hours and low pay that plagues most workers, “more than 90 percent didn’t complain for fear of losing their jobs.”

Hopefully, the passing of this bill will help with that.

Photo courtesy of Herald Post via Flickr.