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Joseph Pimentel Asian Journal
Published: 05 October 2012

Gov. Jerry Brown

LOS ANGELES – Saying that signing the bill into law could cost the state nearly $200 million, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed AB 889, better known as the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

In his statement, Brown had more questions than answers about the bill that would have provided mandatory overtime pay, rest and meal breaks, among other labor protections to the 200,000 caregivers--many of them Filipinos--statewide.

In his reasoning for vetoing the bill, Brown questioned what the "economic and human impact on the disabled or elderly person and their family," were the bill signed into law.

"What would be the additional costs and what is the financial capacity of those taking care of loved ones in the last years of life? Will it increase costs to the point of forcing people out of their homes and into licensed institutions? Will there be fewer jobs for domestic workers? Will the available jobs be for fewer hours?"

Brown said he vetoed the bill because of those uncertainties and that a possible "drafting error" could cost the state $200 million dollars.

He asked for the California Department of Industrial Relations to provide answers to his questions before he would consider signing a similar bill again.

"In the face of consequences both unknown or unintended, I find it more prudent to do the studies before considering an untested legal regime for those that work in our homes," he said.

Filipino Workers Upset

This is the second time a Domestic Workers Rights Bill was vetoed by a governor of California. In 2006, a similar bill passed the state legislature before then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.

This bill, sponsored by the California Domestic Workers Coalition, labor unions was introduced last year by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco. The legislation had garnered broad community and political support as it made its way through the state legislature. But to no avail.

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and its member organizations in Southern California immediately issued a statement denouncing Brown's decision to veto the bill.

"Gov. Brown's actions are a clear sign that the civil rights and labor rights of workers and immigrants are a low priority for US politicians and leaders," NAFCON officials said.

"We demand that Gov. Brown listen to the cries of countless domestic workers and immigrant families and oppose anti-immigrant policies and unequal labor protection," they added.

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