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Remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka, California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Rally, Sacramento, California

Richard Trumka • February 22, 2012

Thank you!  I want to thank all of you who came here today, for your energy and dedication!

I love your commitment, your creativity, and your moral authority.  

Like your sisters and brothers in New York, across the United States—and in other countries—when you stand up for yourselves, you lift up all domestic workers, and all working families. And I want to thank Art Pulaski, who leads the California Federation of Labor, for all the work he does on behalf of working people in California. Thank you, Art!  

What you're doing here is important in Sacramento, and San Francisco, and Los Angeles and across California, and it's important far beyond this state – it's important to every worker who has put in days that are too long to earn paychecks that are too small. It's important to every worker who has suffered disrespect, to every worker who asks only for the basics of a decent life—fair wages, safe working conditions, the security to give hope to their children.  

Together you have the solidarity to win a better life.  And when you raise your voice, you are heard.  

You won't be silenced, and with your voice and your solidarity, you're raising standards throughout your industry, you're raising the profile of the work you do, and you're improving child care and elder care across America. You're improving domestic work across America. And that's a good thing.    

All work has dignity. All workers deserve respect. And the work we do connects us all.  

The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights has come a long way, and this year it's going to become law in the state of California because you are not alone.  You have the entire labor movement at your back!  

Last May, the AFL-CIO and the Domestic Workers Alliance entered into a historic partnership, which paved the way for the huge victory in Geneva in June for domestic workers worldwide.  

Together, we established international law that will improve the working conditions of domestic workers everywhere.  And now, together again, we're going to keep pushing the California law forward until Gov. Brown signs it into law. We're close, and, today, we're even closer.

This is a great time for working families. I feel compelled to mention the movie, "The Help." It has inspired and moved millions of Americans and introduced the world to the hardships and pride that are part of every single day in the life of a domestic worker.  

The film has helped the public understand that domestic workers do incredibly important work, caring for our most precious resources—our children, our families, our parents and our grandparents. And most importantly, your movement has been able to use "The Help" to advance your activism. I hope "The Help" wins an Oscar. It deserves it.   

My friends, it's not right that domestic workers should be excluded from overtime pay laws. It's not right.  It's time for that to end.  

It's not right that domestic workers are excluded from collective bargaining laws. It's not right.  It's time for that to end.  

Domestic workers' rights are civil rights.  

Domestic workers' rights are human rights.  

And I salute you for standing up, for not backing down. For standing up for your rights all across this great country. On behalf of the 12 million members of the AFL-CIO, I want to say thank you because while we are here for you, you are taking on a fight that will benefit the entire labor movement.  

As we know all too well, working people have never gotten anything for free. Nothing is ever handed to us.  

But when we rise up, side-by-side, we get what we need. We have what it takes. Together, we can make a future when every single worker has the fundamental right to be treated with respect, to put in a hard day's work and be rewarded fairly for it.  

The AFL-CIO and the Domestic Workers Alliance must stand shoulder to shoulder until that day comes, and beyond.  

That's the world we want. That's the world we deserve. That's the world we can have and will have. My friends, a new day is almost here.  

God bless you.  God bless the work you do, and God bless your aspirations and your efforts to turn them from hope to reality.

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