Domestic workers’ alliance sets up hotline for reporting abuses
LONG BEACH, California — The Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) and the California Domestic Workers Coalition have unveiled the California Homecare Agency Labor Violations Tip Line, a hotline that allows caregivers, consumers and agencies in California to anonymously report labor violations and unethical behaviors of home care agencies.
“We have to regulate the home care industry to ensure that workers have safe workplaces and receive fair pay. It is essential for us to provide various means for them to be able to assert their rights and protect themselves from abusive employers,” Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, executive director of PWC, said at a press conference on Friday, May 10 at PWC.
Soriano-Versoza acknowledged the valid fear that many home care workers may feel when coming out to report these practices, but she assured that the tip-line is anonymous and “the safe way for workers to report these violations.”
For many workers, the fear of losing their income stops them from reporting these violations. The current socio-political climate surrounding undocumented immigrants has also instilled fear among the undocumented community about reaching out to authorities. A majority of domestic workers in California are immigrant women, and many of them are undocumented.
Josephine Biclar, a Filipina caregiver and PWC member, shared her experience of being exploited and underpaid as a domestic worker under Health Alliance, a homecare agency. At one point, she allegedly worked 24 hours a day but only earned $110 for the day, which adds up to $4.50 an hour.
The agency also allegedly made her falsify her time sheet so she wouldn’t be qualified for overtime pay.
“I used to be afraid, too,” Biclar recounted. “I used to be silent and did not want to take action. But when I spoke up, I learned that I was not alone. There is a community ready to support people like us. If we are united, we can make a big difference in each other’s lives.”
The tip-line was designed to mitigate that fear of reporting these violations by enabling the PWC and the California Domestic Workers Coalition to identify the agencies violating labor laws.
This information will be shared with the Labor Commissioner’s office, which will implement the PWC’s Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which honors the rights of domestic workers in the state.
The California Homecare Agency Labor Violations Tip Line is (213) 267-4741 and it is also available as an anonymous online submission at bit.ly/homecaretipline