Domestic workers

Seattle to Fund Domestic Workers Rights Awareness Campaign

Seattle was the first in the United States to adopt a bill of rights for domestic workers. Four years later, the city is taking steps to raise awareness of the law.

SEATTLE — Domestic workers like nannies, housekeepers, gardeners and cooks became the focus of legislation in Seattle in 2018. The city was the first in the United States to adopt a bill of rights for domestic workers.

Now, four years later, the city is announcing funding to raise awareness about the law.

Over the past seven years, the City of Seattle has been able to settle nearly a thousand cases where employers have agreed to pay their workers owed wages totaling more than $24 million. This happened, in part, because of the work at Bureau of Labor Standards where Steve Marchese is the director.

“We are in the process of closing the first file, the first settlement concerning domestic workers,” Marchese said.

Marchese plans to provide more details on that settlement next month.

This week, the Labor Standards Office announced one-time funding available for Seattle-area organizations who can raise awareness and help domestic workers understand their rights. The $250,000 for community organizing of domestic workers will be used for up to eight projects. Nonprofit organizations and grassroots groups that receive fiscal sponsorship from a nonprofit organization can apply for funding.

To Casa LatinaCariño Barragán, the co-executive director of education and community organizing, sees a need for funding.

“The majority of workers still don’t know what their rights are. Because those are the conditions they work in, right. It’s isolated. It’s very just one on one,” Barragán said. .

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights includes minimum wage, breaks and meal breaks.

“Around 33,000 is the estimate of workers who are affected by this type of legislation,” Barragán said.

Now the focus is on making sure all those workers know their rights.

“Because we know things are going on, but they’re not being reported. And so, we want to make sure people know what they can ask for, what they can expect,” Marchese said.

Danielle Alvarado, Executive Director of Work in Washington released this statement on funding:

Domestic workers are extremely isolated at work, which can lead to frequent violations of their rights – and we know that domestic workers of color are particularly vulnerable to facing these labor rights violations. That’s why workers of color have called on the city council to provide this additional funding, which will allow community organizations to conduct an extensive Know Your Rights awareness campaign and serve as a bridge of trust between workers of color and the government. . The money reflects a deep commitment from city leaders to ensure our city’s most marginalized workers are truly protected by our industry-leading labor standards. We are ready to expand our educational work among domestic workers with these resources.”

The Office of Labor Standards is accepting applications for funding through Monday, July 11 at 5:00 p.m. PDT.

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