The California Domestic Workers Coalition rallied in Sacramento on August 29. | Credit: Courtesy

Today is Tuesday, August 29, as I write this, and I am outside the Capitol Building in Sacramento with Jacob Lesner-Buxton. Jacob has just received news that his mother is seriously ill in Oakland, so he is leaving to be with her. We had planned to fly back and write this together in preparation for Labor Day.

Today makes me think of Selma, and other Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. We are singing “I Shall Not Be Moved,” except in Spanish, “No Nos Moveremos.” We are here to call on Governor Newsom to sign Senate Bill 686, providing health and safety protections for domestic care workers.

Jacob and I are members of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network. We are raising our voices alongside some 40 other advocacy groups today. California would not treat firefighters, police, not even teachers, and certainly not a governor like this. It is unconscionable for this disregard to go on. It’s worth noting that Newsom has previously vetoed two similar bills.

Rev. David Moore | Joyce Xi Photography

I was invited to be Hand in Hand’s spokesperson: “Governor Newsom, you lack the pedigree of poverty that domestic workers have. Someday you may need a domestic worker to care for yourself. That’s why we are here today — to call upon you to hear our loud voices. We want you to sign SB 686 and honor the lives, the families, and the labor of domestic caregivers, who provide one of the most important needs in our society.”

Today’s action was different from many others. Among workers, we saw many immigrant women, especially Latina and Filipina. They provide services historically done by Black women. We acknowledged today that the legacy of slavery in our country cannot be shaken off while any workers are exploited. This march was special, too, because so many elders participated. Some folks had wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers. Some walked with difficulty. I was there for all these people, and for my own mother, who has been the recipient of domestic care.

We were not assaulted with billy clubs and police dogs, but these determined seniors braved a hot Sacramento day to walk from the Capitol Building to the governor’s office.

Says Santa Barbara City Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, “I wholeheartedly support SB 686. This acknowledges the importance of extending essential labor protections to domestic workers and family daycare employees. By promoting fairness and safety, this bill aligns with our values of equity and worker well-being. I am grateful that our local community made a journey to represent us in our state capital.”

My mom smiles more than anyone I know. She sings more than anyone I know. And, my mom also prays more than anyone I know. Her own mother died when she was just five years old. She met my dad at age 18, and shortly thereafter, she left Jim Crow on a train with him. Mom grew up without an indoor toilet or running water. I was born when they were 19. They would go on to have eight more children and were married for 65 years until Dad died. His death was related to his commitment to personally caring for Mom.

After Dad retired from the armed services, he was deemed to have too much money to qualify for Long-Term Services and Supports. This means Dad’s pension fund is the only thing we have to pay for all of Mom’s support needs, and it’s shrinking. We would love to have security for our own mother and for all people who are aging and/or disabled. The recent pandemic only added to the stress of my mom’s care. Government mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis prevented most of our family from visiting her, out of an abundance of caution, even though she lived in her own home.

Our family owes a great debt of gratitude to our sister Beverly, who has recently taken Mommy into her home.

My family will continue to focus on loving our mother. She deserves it. We will continue to push for expanding funding and access to Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS), and recognize that, oftentimes, those services are provided by domestic workers. We will continue to think about shrinking savings accounts. We will continue to ask you to care, too, because someday, such care and support may be needed for one of your parents, or maybe it will be needed by you.


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