California's Year of the Nanny

Categories: Immigration, Labor
Tom Ammiano: Not an abuser of nannies.
This has been the Year of the Nanny in California politics. There was Meg Whitman's undocumented nanny who accused her of not paying her enough, which was perhaps the death knell to Whitman's gubernatorial campaign (okay, technically, that was last year). Then there was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's secret lover, who was also his housekeeper and the mother of their love child.

While these gossipy news bits have provided us reporters with endless material for bad composite art, the nanny issue that will actually have the most lasting consequences is the Domestic Worker's Bill of Rights, AB 889.

The bill would give in-house workers like housekeepers and, yes, nannies, basic labor protections like overtime pay, guaranteed sleeping time, and five-day workweeks, as well as meal and rest breaks. The bill passed the Assembly in June by 49 to 28, and is set to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 15. New York state was the first to pass such a bill last year.

To urge the passage of the bill, coauthor Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) showed up in his hometown on Wednesday morning outside the Westfield Centre downtown, joining domestic workers who were urging the state Senate to pass the bill.

Fighting for their rights.

Ammiano -- by far the city's intentionally funniest politician -- opened with this zinger: "I'm the only person in the city not running for mayor." He was joined by housekeepers from the Mission District's Women's Collective,  La Colectiva, the workers advertising in those classy Fairy Godmother ads in BART.

They chose the location today given the opening at the mall's movie theater of The Help, a movie that shows the struggles of black female housekeepers in Mississippi during the civil rights era. At that time, housekeepers were left out of basic labor protections of the National Labor Relations Act.

But as Whitman's nanny proved once again last year, though the race of domestic workers has changed, not much else has.

Photos by Francisco Barradas

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We pay our Nanny $20/hr for 4 hrs a day. We now would have to find a 2nd nanny to watch our child while this first one takes a break - for 15 minutes. You know what? We're going to have to fire our first nanny. Simple as that. We don't have any other family members to help take care of our child and it's patently absurd to find a substitute for 15 minutes. CA is being flushed down the toilet by it's own lack of fiscal discipline, and the legislature is worried about whether the toilet was installed by a licensed contractor.


This story is obviously written by someone who does NOT fully understand the industry, or who has researched the current law.  Basically, there are two major negative issues with AB889. 1) 98% of these "rights" already exist in California - making this mostly about POLITICAL GRANDSTANDING, and 2) it makes a gross assumption that personal attendants are domestic workers.  Personal attendants are NOT domestic workers, they are HEALTHCARE workers. Healthcare workers from assistants, to therapists, to nurses, to physicians cannot and should not be put into a square box. A patient's personal health and welfare knows no time-clock! If passed, this bill will devastate our senior population's healthcare options.  What a mess.


California Wage Order 15 and other CA wage and labor laws  ALREADY and have for over 20 years given housekeepers, nannies, all domestic workers basic protections of minimum wage, overtime, 5 day work weeks, mandatory sleep time of 12 hours not the 8 proposed in AB889.

Current law gives nannies and caregivers PAID ON DUTY BREAKS ..  this bill if passed requires OFF DUTY BREAKS which means the nanny or caregiver MUST ABANDON the children or disabled senior in order for the employer to comply with the new law if passed. Would you hire a 2nd nanny to give breaks??? If your a nanny employer do you want to be fined thousands of dollars and sued for not allowing your nanny to abandon your children. This is the proposed law in AB889.

Also this bill states that you have to allow a domestic worker to cook ANYTHING in your kitchen if they have worked in your home or you will be fined up to $39,0000. This will go into law so if you have a 5 day a week houseeper who work s 5 days a week 6 hours a day for 3 years you must have allowed that housekeeper to cook whatever for how long they want or be sued and fined $39,000.  This will become law.

Housekeepers are entitled to overtime now. Housekeepers in San Francisco make $25 to $35 an hour.  The collectiva advertises their housekeepers for $27 an hour CASH.. mmmmI thought we all were required to PAY TAXES...  these are the same people who demand social security and medicare but only want to be paid CASH... no trail for taxes.

This bill is not at all like the New York Bill.  Assemblymember Ammiano has refused to meet with San Francisco residents and business's that oppose this bill.  This bill hurts domestic workers and employers who it is suppossed to help. 

Any domestic worker documented or undocumented can go to the labor board, file a complaint and they will be awarded missing wages if they have not received minimum wage or overtime or paid on duty breaks. The labor board does not report undocumented workers.

Lets talk about what this bill really is.. It is a bill for unionization of individual domestic workers and this is stated by the Sponsors themselves.

Lora Brawley
Lora Brawley

I’d like to clarifyan important point from your article. 


Your articlesays “The bill would give in-house workers like housekeepers and, yes, nannies,basic labor protections like overtime pay, guaranteed sleeping time, five-daywork weeks, as well as meal and rest breaks.”


That’s not entirelytrue.  Through the Fair Labor StandardsAct, all domestic workers, except those providing companionship care, are alreadyentitled to minimum wage.  Live-outworkers are already entitled to overtime pay in every state. 


As far asovertime for live-in workers, CA domestic workers already have that protection.  Kathy Webb, President of 4NannyTaxes says, “Interestingly,all three states who extend overtime coverage to live in domestics have done soprior to any legislation such as the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. I haveworked in the field since 1993 and the New York and Maryland provisions existedat that time. California’s Wage Order 15 extended coverage in 2001.”


I think it’simportant for the facts about the labor protection domestic workers alreadyhave to be accurately represented so the debate can focus on the other issuesin the bill.


Lora Brawley

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