ILO Passes Domestic Workers' Rights Bill, but It Will Have Little Effect in the U.S.


"Because of this, there will be more public attention," she said. "Hopefully, the passage of this convention will help raise greater awareness among families and among local governments to pay attention to this."

The importance of this convention is to bring the plight of domestic workers into the national spotlight, not necessarily changing U.S. laws, said Ana Avendano, the assistant to the president at the AFL-CIO, who also participated in the ILO conference. In many parts of the world, domestic workers are explicitly excluded from labor laws and standards, she said.

"What happens to many workers in most cases is already illegal," Avendano said. "When these workers complain about their conditions, now people are going to listen"

There are no federal laws to protect America's estimated 2.5 million domestic workers, said Jill Shenker, the field director for National Domestic Workers Alliance. New York is the only state that has enacted a domestic workers bill of rights, which went into effect in November 2010 and provided a guidepost for the ILOs convention. California is currently debating similar legislation.

For at least 53 million people around the globe who are older than 15, domestic work is their main form of employment, according to the ILO's Conditions of Work and Employment Program.

"If all domestic workers worked in one country," according to the report, "this country would be the 10th largest employer worldwide."

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