Today’s News & Commentary — November 30, 2018
Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Pramila Jayapal announced legislation for a federal domestic workers bill of rights this week, the Nation reports. The legislation would ensure that domestic workers are covered by basic labor laws: the right to overtime pay when they put in more than 40 hours a week, to the protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to form unions, and to recourse against harassment and discrimination. Additionally, it would give domestic workers the right to meal and rest breaks, paid sick days and advanced notice of scheduling, among other things. Eight states and Seattle have passed bills of domestic-worker rights that extend some of these protections.
Harris and Jaypal joined with Ai-jen Poo, the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, for an op-ed in CNN arguing in favor of their newly introduced legislation. The op-ed highlights how domestic workers have been left out of much of the nation’s foundational workers rights legislation, including the New Deal, the Civil Rights Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The trio further argues, citing economist Paul Osterman, that without a higher standard for domestic care jobs the country could see a massive shortage in home care workers.
New York labor leaders are speaking out against Amazon’s poor working conditions with a report issued this week, as the online retail giant goes forward with its new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, the Guardian reports. The report cites 9 nine deaths at Amazon facilities this year, along with allegations that Amazon workers in the UK–too scared to take bathroom breaks–have been urinating in bottles instead. City lawmakers and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said Amazon’s grueling conditions for warehouse workers and opposition to union organizing should make the tech giant unwelcome in the city. Not all organized labor opposes the project; the influential building workers’ union, 32BJ SEIU, has said the Amazon HQ will bring “thousands of good union jobs that will build, maintain and secure this complex.”
Google employees are talking of forming a “strike fund” to support coworkers who wish to strike or quit over the tech giant’s collaboration with the Chinese government’s internet censorship efforts, CNBC reports. Yesterday the Intercept unveiled new details on how Google bypassed security and privacy staffers on certain decisions related to the censorship project, internally named Project Dragonfly. Google employees are not currently unionized, although some employees have had informal talks about unionization.