From the Executive Director : Comemorando y Luchando
Dozens of household workers and allies gathered this morning in front of the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles to commemorate the 2 year anniversary of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in California, AB 241. But the tone wasn't quite celebratory. That's because the caregivers, home care workers, nannies, babysitters and housekeepers present knew all too well that having a law on the books guaranteeing overtime means little if:
A) the law is not enforced
B) workers aren't educated
C) employers are not educated.
This is why workers who have been working with the Pilipino Workers Center, CHIRLA, and of course IDEPSCA,as members of the California Domestic Workers Coalition today shared stories of painful learning experiences but also the power of action in changing people's understanding of reality and how to fight.
Editha Fernandez did some hard math with the crowd, breaking down the 10s of thousands of dollars just one caregiver gets stolen from her over two years because AB 241 isn't widely enforced.
In my time here at IDEPSCA I have seen the power of popular education in developing immigrant worker leaders so that they, who first hand experience the bitterness of labor abuses and the joy of struggle. Carmen Goley, a household worker, a health promoter, and now an IDEPSCA employee, as Outreach Organizer for Mujeres en Accion, spoke strongly today of the need for women to unite as a strategy to gain big wins, not just in terms of policy, but in terms of organizing towards a world that respects the dignity of all workers, regardless of immigration status, language, or literacy level.
It is because of this power that Mujeres en Accion meets every Wednesday evening, from 5:30 to 7:30, in our main office in Pico Union. Together women attend workshops on their rights as workers, women and mother while learning practical skills like public speaking and using social media. Together the theory and practice make for the possibility of deepened awareness and as the name of the group says, deeper action.
This morning, I chanted, "What do we want?"
The group answered, "AB 241!"
I chanted, "When do we want it?"
The group answered, "Forever!"
I and the other women present today wore green because we wanted to be physical green lights, not just telling the State of California to move forward and enforce labor laws for low-wage immigrant workers, but we also were signaling to one another that collectively we moving forward will change the world, forever.
Maegan E. Ortiz
Interim Executive Director