As the U.S. Recognizes Workers on Labor Day, the Matahari Women Workers’ Center Condemns Industry Efforts to Remove Labor Protections From Domestic Workers
Cultural Care Au Pair Sues Massachusetts Attorney General to Remove Protections for Au Pairs From Domestic Workers’ Law Boston, Massachusetts – On the eve of Labor Day weekend, the Boston Globe reported on a lawsuit filed by Cultural Care Au Pair arguing that au pairs should be exempted from labor protections under the Massachusetts Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. The Matahari Women Workers’ Center condemns these and any industry efforts to exclude au pairs from employment protections and undermine basic labor rights for domestic workers.
There are are nearly 1,200 au pairs in Massachusetts, a majority of whom are women between the ages of 18-26, who arrive through the J-1 visa cultural exchange program. While au pairs are classified as exchange visitors for immigration purposes, as workers, they provide up to 45 hours per week of in-home childcare to host families. Currently, most au pairs earn $4.35 per hour, and often face pressure to repay high recruitment fees and other visa-related expenses.
The au pair industry has worked to remove au pairs in Massachusetts from the 2014 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which extended labor protections, such as the right to days of rest, notice of termination and severance pay for live-in workers, and the right to a written employment agreement to domestic workers, including au pairs.
“When I was an au pair, the nature of my work was the same as my work now as a nanny. And yet, I had au pairs friends who were unprotected, who weren’t provided sufficient food, who were severely mistreated. In honor of Labor Day, we should make sure that au pairs are protected, and continue to lift up Massachusetts as a state that respects and protects workers,” said Tatiane Oliveira, a nanny, former au pair, and Matahari member-leader.
“We are shocked and disappointed by Cultural Care’s latest attempt to weaken the Massachusetts Domestic Workers' Law by excluding au pairs from the protections it offers,,” said Monique Nguyen Belizario, Executive Director of the Matahari Women Workers’ Center. She continued, “This recent effort builds upon a string of unsuccessful legislative attempts to disempower au pairs and sacrifice our state's long-held values to respect workers, for profit. All individuals providing childcare in a private household should be entitled to workplace protections. The lack of access to affordable childcare is a problem we have to grapple with as a society, but exploitation is not the answer.”
Massachusetts is one of seven states in the U.S., including New York, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Illinois, with Bill of Rights legislation to protect the employment rights of domestic workers and au pairs.
About the Matahari Women Workers’ Center:Matahari is a Boston-based women’s community organization working to end gender-based violence and exploitation. Founded in 2002, Matahari is a leading force in advancing the rights of domestic workers, immigrant families, and survivors of violence and exploitation. Matahari is a steering committee member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION IF YOU SUPPORT FULL RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS FOR AU PAIRS!