Asian-Americans push for domestic workers' Bill of Rights

By Connie Macatula-De Leon, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 20 2014 11:43 AM | Updated as of May 20 2014 07:43 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois - Over 400 Asian-Americans rallied and met with elected officials in the state capitol building in Springfield last Thursday to commemorate Asian-American Action day.

Their main agenda is to fight for the passage of The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.

"Domestic workers are those working in houses. They could be senior caregivers, child caregivers, nannies, babysitters, housecleaners, housekeepers, chauffeurs, cooks," retired caregiver Sally Richmond said.

According to a survey conducted by National Domestic Workers Alliance last November, 23 percent of domestic workers were paid less than their state’s minimum wage requirements, and 48 percent claimed they were not making enough to support their families.

Advocates said domestic workers, predominantly composed of women, have been excluded from labor protection, a right that is extended to workers in other industries.

These benefits include:

  • the right to be paid no less than the minimum wage
  • the right to be paid for all work hours
  • the right to at least one day off a week
  • the right to meal and rest periods
  • the right to paid time offs

"There's a gender bias," community leader Gerry Clarito said. "Part of the struggle is fighting for equal rights regardless of your immigration status, gender, or nationality."

Filipino caregivers and their advocates hope Illinois will soon be the 5th state, after New York, Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts to implement basic labor protections for domestic workers.