After the successful passage of the Domestic Workers Ordinance in Seattle, a statewide bill was prepared by the Washington Attorney General’s office in partnership with Governor Jay Inslee. With over 100,000 domestic workers in Washington, this policy would provide crucial protections.
This bill started out as a broad Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, including minimum wage, overtime, rest and meal breaks as well as human rights such as freedom from harassment and discrimination and never having to turn over personal identification and documents.
With coalition support and a champion in the Senate, the bill was heard twice in both houses of the Washington State legislature. Although this bill had broad support from legislators, the au pair industry lobbied hard for an au pair exemption. Our coalition of workers and employers held firm that all domestic workers, regardless of their immigration status, deserve these basic rights, and so we came to an impasse.
We hope that this bill will be brought to the legislature again, especially now that our coalition has worked hard to provide education around the needs of the au pair community of over 1,200 in Washington State.
Hand in Hand’s part in this campaign was to represent employers in order to show the state legislature that policies like this one have a broad base of support and are good for workers as well as those who employ them. We circulated a petition, wrote and published op-eds, met with legislators, and testified in committee to show employer support.