by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Jerry Brown Vetoes Domestic Workers Bill of Rights
Some disappointing news out of Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed the domestic workers bill of rights:
Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday announced that he had vetoed legislation that would have provided overtime pay, meal breaks and other labor protections to an estimated 200,000 caregivers, nannies and house cleaners in California.
Brown called their work a "noble endeavor" and said they deserve fair pay and safe working conditions.
But the Democratic governor said the bill "raises a number of unanswered questions," prompting him to reject the measure. It was among dozens of bills he acted on in the final hours before his midnight deadline to consider bills sent to him this fall by the Legislature. [CBS]
Amongst other things, the law would have given domestic workers the right to compensation if their meal breaks and rest periods were interrupted. The California Chamber of Commerce argued that paying workers for infringements on their time off, in the words of CBS, "impractical at best and dangerous at worst." Dangerous, how? In the eyes of the Chamber, workers who expect to be paid for their time are dangerous. Who knows what they might expect next?
Women and people of color have always been the backbone of America's domestic workforce. Domestic workers have historically been excluded from protections that other workers take for granted.
Household workers were deliberately excluded from the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 in a bid to win the support of Southern lawmakers. California's proposed law is the product of a national movement dedicated to reversing these longstanding inequities.
New York is the first and only state with a domestic workers rights law. The law went into effect in 2010 and, so far, the Empire State has not sunk in to the sea.
“Protecting the basic labor rights of workers who care for kids and elders and sick people isn’t that complicated. This is a real setback for racial and economic justice,” said Rinku Sen, president of the Allied Research Center.
[Photo credit: Steve Rhodes, Creative Commons.]