The New York City Council passed a bill last Wednesday increasing protections for nannies and other domestic workers in the city, the first such bill on the nation. The bill requires employers to inform domestic workers in writing about their duties, wages, and hours, and employment agencies must sign an agreement stating that they are aware of domestic workers' rights and labor laws, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Employment agencies violating the law face up to $1,000 in fines and a year in jail.
Ai-Jen Poo, an organizer with Domestic Workers United, estimates that there are 200,000 domestic workers in the city and 600,000 in the greater metropolitan area, according to the New York Times. Most of these women are immigrants who are often unaware of their rights and are scared to challenge their employers because of the fear of losing their jobs or visas, the Monitor reports. Several high-profile cases of abuse of domestic workers provided some of the impetus for this bill. Justina Dumpagnol, a Maylasian native, told the City Council of an incident with a New York family in which she was pushed down basement stairs by a child and left semiconscious until the ambulance arrived. "He locked the door behind me and I was there for a very long time," she testified, according to the Monitor.
"This is just the beginning. Next, we're going to seek to get the State Legislature to vote to improve standards for domestic workers," Poo told the Times. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has indicated he supports the measure, according to the Associated Press. Groups in other major metropolitan areas are also planning to push forward legislation on this issue, using New York as a model.
Media Resources: Christian Science Monitor 5/16/03; New York Times 5/15/03; Associated Press 5/15/03; Washington Post 5/14/03
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .