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Nannies: The Next Class Warfare Casualty

Posted on June 14 2010 2:00 pm
Jenn escaped blue state academia for redder pastures in the South. Follow her on Twitter and read more of her work at

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Forget the nanny state.  New York is well on its way to becoming the nanny-less state.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights passed by the New York State Senate earlier this month is being sold as a package of workplace protections for nannies, housekeepers, and other domestic employees.  But is the legislation really a human rights victory for low-wage women or is it a job-killer likely to burden both domestic workers and the families who employ them?

Labor unions and community organizers say the bill is a social justice measure designed to bring fair labor standards to poor women, immigrant women, women of color, and of course, poor immigrant women of color. Among the “protections” families will be required to provide for their household employees:

  • A half dozen paid holidays per year.
  • Five paid vacation days per year.
  • Seven paid sick days per year.
  • Time and a half after eight hours of work each day.
  • Two weeks of severance pay (or two weeks’ written notice).

All full time domestic workers will receive the same benefits regardless of immigration status or whether they are paid on the books. In addition, the legislation opens up the possibility of collective bargaining for domestic workers.

“Finally, ‘the help’ may get some help,” gushed an editorial in The Journal News.  “Who can argue against that?” asked writer Claudia Deutsch.

Actually, it’s pretty easy to argue against a bill that imposes huge new financial burdens on families, especially when it comes during an economic recession so bad that New York state government might shut down.

It’s simple. When it becomes more costly to employ nannies in New York, fewer families will hire them.  Some parents will make do with part time help or switch to institutional daycare.  Others will move out of state or stop working outside the home.  Desperate lawmakers are convinced they’ve found one more way to squeeze New Yorkers to fund unsustainable entitlement and pension programs.  But eventually there’s nothing left to squeeze.

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