Health and Safety for All Workers Act
In 2020, after years of terrible wildfires in many parts of California and at the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, MUA members identified the desperate need to improve safety protections on the job. Our members who are housecleaners were being forced to work in areas impacted by falling ash and toxic smoke without adequate ventilation, masks or gloves. Nannies and care workers were working in close contact with children and elders without masks, gloves, air filters or other protections. Hundreds of our members became ill with COVID, many of whom were exposed on the job. And legally, these workers had no right to recourse to demand protections.
For these reasons, in 2020 and 2021 we co-led a statewide campaign of the California Domestic Workers Coalition to pass the Health and Safety for All Workers Act (SB321), a bill whose original aim was to eliminate the unfair exclusion of domestic workers from Cal-OSHA occupational health and safety guidelines. Through a hard fought campaign with the participation of many of our member-leaders, we passed the bill through both houses of the state legislature twice. In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed our bill with an unfounded claim that homes should not be treated as workplaces. In 2021, direct negotiations with the Governor’s office led us to amend the bill and secure his support. The new law, passed in September 2021, mandates the development of the first ever statewide health and safety guidelines for domestic workers, but did not make those guidelines enforceable by law.
In 2022, a MUA member-leader was chosen for the state taskforce to develop the new health and safety guidelines. Our current goal is to create strong guidelines for all domestic workers which we will eventually make enforceable by law.