Legislator walks a Mile in Caregiver's Shoes

Fiona Ma working as a caregiver

For Immediate release: July 31, 2012

Rachel Tardiff, Rachel@FitzGibbonMedia.com, 202-746-1507
Katie Joaquin, CA Domestic Workers Coalition, 510-388-0025

Assemblymember Fiona Ma serves as caregiver to employer of domestic worker to show urgent need for basic protections offered in legislative proposal

Photos available for download at http://bit.ly/mileinshoes

Oakland — As California legislators prepare to return from summer recess, Assemblymember Fiona Ma served today as caregiver for a domestic employer Nikki Brown-Booker to demonstrate the importance of domestic work and the need for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 889 Ammiano and VM Perez), which she co-authored.

Ms. Brown-Booker is an Oakland-based psychotherapist who has severe rheumatoid arthritis and employs multiple domestic workers. This morning, Assemblymember Ma performed several of the caregiver's usual duties, including taking a walk through the neighborhood with Ms. Brown-Booker and bringing Booker's service dog Kiva to the park.

"Just as people with disabilities have specific needs for care, so do our domestic workers. They deserve dignity and independence just as much as we do," said Ms. Brown-Booker. "When our domestic workers are treated fairly and with dignity, they do their work with love and stay longer on the job."

“The domestic work done on behalf of children, the elderly and those with disabilities is not glamorous, but it’s important for all of California. Those legislators who are ‘walking a mile in domestic workers’ shoes’ are showing what a difficult job it is, and demonstrating why we need to pass my AB 889, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights," said AB 889 author Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. "The next step is for the Legislature as a whole to give domestic workers the employment protections that we already give to all other California workers.”

In California, the domestic workforce of caregivers, housecleaners and nannies operate under outdated exclusions from basic labor protections, subjecting them to extremely low wages and poor working conditions. The second measure of its kind in the country, AB 889 would include domestic workers in basic labor protections that nearly all other workers enjoy such as rest breaks and overtime pay. The state legislature will be considering the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in the upcoming weeks.

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Co-founded in 2007 by award-winning social entrepreneur Ai-jen Poo (“The Nannies’ Norma Rae” –New York Times and named one of the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World), the National Domestic Workers Alliance has 35 local, membership-based affiliate organizations of nannies, housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly located in 19 cities and 11 states around the country.