About a year ago, in September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights into permanent law. The bill ensures overtime protections for domestic workers and personal care attendants who support and care for thousands of individuals and families in California. This victory represents years of work by our partners at the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
The documentary film Right To Care, which was created with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, celebrates this bill, highlights the importance of care and care work, and calls for a care infrastructure that works for everyone–those who need care, and those who provide it.
The film follows the work of the Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles, the city with the largest concentration of domestic workers in the nation. Many of the women who organize with PWC have experienced unfair working conditions and discrimination as domestic workers themselves, and now help others who face the same situation.
“When I got here, I was working like a slave,” says Terry. “Twenty-four hours, and I didn’t have a day off.” Terry isn’t alone. In the film, Emily, another domestic worker and organizer with PWC, interviews a woman who reports working under the same conditions as Terry.
“Caregiving is the resource that makes everything else possible in our economy,” says Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of NDWA and Co-Founder of Caring Across Generations. When we disregard this resource, care workers and the people they care for suffer immensely. But, as this film shows, when we value this resource and the people who provide it, we support both care workers and those who they care for.
When workers are treated fairly, care workers and care recipients enrich each other’s lives. Terry and Bob, who can be seen painting together in the film, have a wonderful relationship, and she says working for a consumer who treats her well has changed her life.
“I am so grateful, you know, giving me a chance, opportunity, and fair pay,” she says.
Bob is quick to chime in, “I’m very fortunate too! You help me so much, you’re there for me, and you’re unreal!”
Bob gets it right: to do this kind of work, you have to have the kind of incredible giving spirit, empathy, and stamina that makes you unreal. Home care work is physically and emotionally demanding, and typically requires logging in long hours in order to provide quality care to families. But unreal workers deserve real rights and benefits too, and thanks to this bill, those in California finally have them. We hope that other states will follow suit.