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English 1302-81709

19 September 2021

How Inadequate Labor Laws affect American Domestic Workers

Centre for American Progress. Domestic Workers Lack Protections. Updated Jun 17, 2011. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/general/news/2011/06/17/9712/idea-of-the-day-domestic-workers-lack-protections/

The plight of American domestic workers continues to be seen as dire. This aspect is because the country has yet to enact legislation protecting them from exploitation by hiring agencies. An article by the Center for American Progress highlights that despite almost 2.5 million people working in the country as domestic workers, most of them still face challenges such as sexual harassment, racial oppression, and economic exploitation. These troubles are further aggravated because federal and state protection laws have omitted those legislations that would have safeguarded them from their plights. The article’s sentiment is quite true because we continue to witness cases of most of the domestic workers coming up to talk about the horrors that they face while in the line of employment. The worst part is that most of these workers are immigrants and are rarely aware of the actions to take should they encounter difficult situations, such as exploitation.

Falconer, Rebecca, and Kelly, Annie. The global plight of domestic workers: few rights, little freedom, frequent abuse. The Guardian Mar 17, 2015.https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/mar/17/global-plight-domestic-workers-labour-rights-little-freedom-abuse

With about 15 million employees, domestic workers make up a big industry that should be valued. However, Falconer and Kelly, through an opinion editorial in The Guardian Magazine, highlights that many countries in the world, including the United States, have failed to safeguard the rights of these workers. Without proper legislation guiding how they should be paid; many employers exploit or underpay them. This exploitation is majorly attributed to the fact that the nature of their job is not highly exposed because they work indoors. The article further highlights that with most of these workers coming from other countries or poor neighborhoods, many do not know about their rights and how they should be treated. This aspect has led to them having to endure a difficult working environment because of legislation loopholes. The sentiments of this article are true based on some testimonies we have had from some of the domestic workers in the United States of America. Through the film Home Economics: Domestic workers and Labor, we see how some of the interviewed former nannies explain the horrible conditions they were made to undergo by their employers. This aspect of mistreatment because of legislation loopholes should be discussed and treated with utmost urgency.

Poo, Ai-Jen and Gearhart, Dawn. “Domestic workers have long been underpaid an unappreciated. It’s time we give them what they deserve.” CNN Business Jun 17, 2021.https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/17/perspectives/domestic-workers-benefits-protections/index.html

Many domestic workers in the United States of America have been underpaid for a long time now. In their opinion, editorial article in the CNN Business, Poo and Gearhart highlight that there have existed legislation loopholes to safeguard the plight of the domestic workers. For over a decade, the domestic workers’ movement has struggled to improve cleaners, kindergartens, and caregivers. They highlight it was only in 2010 when we first had the domestic workers’ bill of rights being passed by the state of New York. Presently, only ten states and two municipalities of Philadelphia and Seattle have followed suit with these legislations. Some of the legislation covered in the bill includes protection from discrimination and the right to be paid for overtime work. I agree with the article’s sentiments regarding why other states should follow suit with the enactment of the domestic worker’s bill of rights. Many of the people working domestic jobs are usually immigrants, and the employers may take that as an advantage to underpay them. This aspect calls for stricter laws both at federal and state levels to see that employers do not take advantage of these essential people within the labor force.

Wolfe, Julia, Kandra, Jori, Engdahl, Lora and Shierholz, Heidi. “Domestic workers chartbook: A comprehensive look at the demographics, wages, benefits, and poverty rates of the professionals who care for our family members and clean our homes.” Economic Policy Institute May 14, 2020. https://www.epi.org/publication/domestic-workers-chartbook-a-comprehensive-look-at-the-demographics-wages-benefits-and-poverty-rates-of-the-professionals-who-care-for-our-family-members-and-clean-our-homes/

Inadequate labor laws have led to many domestic workers in the United States of America not fulfilling most of their economic obligations. Because of the massive exploitation, they continue to face inadequate labor laws, and most domestic workers are usually vulnerable economically. Julia Wolfe et al. give some statistics on the socio-economic state of these individuals. For example, the median pay for domestic workers is $12.01 per hour compared to other workers who get $19.97 per hour. Second, the employer’s retirement plan covers fewer than one domestic worker. Third, only one in five receive health coverage from their employer. Fourthly, domestic workers are three times as likely to be in poverty and almost three times as likely to lack enough income to make ends meet. I agree with the statistics, which calls for the need to have adequate labor laws to safeguard domestic workers from economic exploitations. For example, we have legislation that calls for mandatory health and retirement plan coverage from employers to domestic workers.

Yaw, Claudia. Domestic Workers Bill of Rights’ measures introduced in Legislature. Seattle Times Jan 28, 2020. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/domestic-workers-bill-of-rights-measures-introduced-in-legislature/

There is an urgent need for domestic workers’ bill of rights to be enacted across all state and federal jurisdictions. Through an opinion editorial at The Seattle Times, Claudia Yaw highlights that for many years now, the plight of domestic workers in the United States of America has not been taken into consideration. This aspect has been highlighted by gaps in existing labor laws that exclude some domestic workers from, for example, a minimum hourly wage. She highlights it is only now that lawmakers are clamoring to make legislations that protect domestic workers, such as mandatory written agreements between workers and their employers and employers being prohibited from threatening workers. The article highlights one reason this legislation needs to be enacted urgently was a confession by a domestic worker from Vancouver, Washington, who said that her employer once asked her to perform house duties while naked when his wife was away. I agree with this article because its sentiments are a perfect reason: inadequate labor laws have affected American domestic workers negatively. It has shown some atrocities that most of these individuals must undergo in their quest to find economic fulfillment. Therefore, it is prime time we see serious legislation changes that protect and inform domestic workers of their rights.

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