UC students call on state legislator to support workers’ rights legislation

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UC students participated in a statewide call-in on Tuesday to California Senator Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, to push legislation that would expand the rights of California’s domestic workers.

The call-in proceeded after a press conference at UC San Diego, where the UC Student Association and the California Domestic Workers Coalition gathered to support the passage of a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights law. The law would provide basic rights such as paid vacation leave, overtime pay and workers’ compensation for employees who work in their employers’ homes, according to an analysis of the legislation by the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

The call-in began in the afternoon at UC San Diego and included students from many UC campuses, including UCLA, UC Riverside and UC Berkeley. UC San Diego had a goal of 300 calls for the day, which it expected to surpass as the call-in continued throughout Tuesday, according to Lilianne Tang, co-campus organizing director for the UC San Diego Associated Students Office of External Affairs.

The bill was initially brought to the legislature in 2006 but was vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A new version of the bill was introduced last year and made it through the state assembly and halfway through the senate.

According to Tang, the bill is currently stuck in the appropriations stage, which is why students and supporters of the bill seek Kehoe’s support. Her position as chair of the state Senate Appropriations Committee allows her influence that could help advance the bill’s progress.

The legislation will not be considered in the appropriations committee until August, according to Myrna Zambrano, Kehoe’s district director. Kehoe has also not yet taken a position on the bill.

“Getting 50 calls is not that important, but getting 300 from one campus alone will make her see that it is an important issue that she needs to make a decision on soon,” Tang said. “We are basically flooding their office to let them know how important this issue is to students.”

The domestic workers’ coalition has been pushing for the passage of the bill since its creation, according to Andrea Mercado, organizing director at Mujeres Unidas Y Activas, one of the groups that formed to create the coalition.