Hundreds of Domestic Workers Gather in Miami to Demand Bill of Rights in Florida

State Legislators Flores, Bullard and Rodriguez Commit to Support a Bill of Rights in the Florida Legislature

Miami, FL – Nearly 200 domestic workers gathered on Saturday, July 23rd at Miami-Dade College’s downtown Miami campus to learn about their labor rights and what they could do to assure that more of them of respected in the workplace.

Women came from Miami, Broward and even Palm Beach found a sense of common purpose and solidarity at the 1st Domestic Workers Assembly in South Florida. For many, this was the first time participating in a community event like this.

Marcia Olivo, Executive Director of the Miami Workers Center, speaks to the assembled crowd on Saturday. (credit: Miami Herald.)

“Events like this can change lives. Many women said this encouraged them to come out of the shadows and gave them hope that it is possible to live and work with dignity and respect as a domestic worker,” said Marcia Olivo, Executive Director for the Miami Workers Center. “Today is the beginning of a new era for domestic workers and together we took the first step towards winning recognition and a bill of rights.”

Florida State Senators Anitere Flores and Dwight Bullard participated in the event not only as speakers, but also to listen the stories directly from the women. (Watch June Barret’s testimony of sexual harassment at her workplace.) Together with State Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez, Sens. Flores and Bullard openly committed to support a bill of rights for domestic workers in the State Legislature in the near future. (See video of Anitere Flores in Spanish)

The Assembly also welcomed actress, entrepreneur and former Miss Univese Alicia Machado, who discussed how the denial of pay and other rights of these women was a silent crime that had to be stopped. Women like the ones who clean her her house and take care of her daughter deserved the dignity and repect that other workers in other sectors expect and receive.

“It’s unacceptable that in the 21st century some people stilll see domestic workers as second class citizens (…) In this country, we cannot allow this to happen. United States is a land of law, rights and respect; a land of equality and opportunity for all.”

Hard Work Like Any Other

Domestic work not only includes housekeeping and house cleaning, but also nannies and some care providers; however, many of the women that do these jobs are not aware about their rights and/or risks of working at someone else’s house. There are approximately 95,000 domestic workers in South Florida alone.

Even though Florida has a large numbers of domestic workers and cases of human trafficking, the state is barely taking steps to address the issue. With this Assembly, South Florida hopes to join a growing number of states and local governments that have passed passed bills of rights to protect domestic workers like California, New York and Illinois. In june, the Miami-Dade County Commission proclaimed June 7th as a Day of Recognition of Domestic Workers.

The Assembly was hosted by the Miami Workers Center and New Florida Majority, and co-hosted by Dreamer’s Moms. It has received the sponsorship of organizations and businesses such as National Domestic Workers Alliance, South Florida AFL-CIO, SEIU Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center and Law Offices of Chavez & De Leon.