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California Governor Chooses Business Over Workers, Vetoes Important Worker Protection Bills

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Fair Trade and Social Justice page and our California News page.

As two critical bills waited quietly on California Governor Jerry Brown's desk this weekend, immigrants across the state held their breath, hoping that the progressive legislation could affect the national immigration debate. By Sunday night, the anticipation gave way to disillusionment with two stunning vetoes.

The highly anticipated Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would have enacted major protections for tens of thousands of housekeepers, nannies and other caregivers and closed loopholes ignored by federal labor law. It would have extended California's policies for overtime pay and workers' compensation, and helped ease in-house workers' arduous, sometimes-abusive work routines by providing for a set amount of sleep and the ability to cook one's own food.

Above all, the Bill of Rights would place California alongside New York (where similar legislation has already passed) in formally recognizing the rights and unique needs of this burgeoning, cross-cutting sector. The bill won support from a huge array of groups, from labor unions to  celebrities, precisely because of the myriad social issues that domestic work braids together: the changing demographics of the workforce, the challenges of securing affordable childcare or elder care for families, and the struggles of immigrant workers, particularly women of color, in a largely unregulated industry.

But Brown  scrapped the bill  (sadly following an earlier veto by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) and  aligned himself with the business lobby , led by the California Chamber of Commerce, which had complained that the provisions of the bill would be unworkable and overly burdensome for employers. 

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