Political Odds & Ends, Jan. 3, 2021


Rajkumar’s Legislation Protecting Domestic Workers Signed into Law 

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar’s (D-Queens) package of legislation expanding benefits and protections for the hundreds of thousands of domestic workers in New York State was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul just as 2021 came to a close.

The first bill (A8007) writes domestic workers into the Human Rights Law of New York State. Domestic workers will now be protected from workplace harassment and discrimination just like other workers. Before now, the New York State Human Rights Law excluded domestic workers from almost all its protections. 

Rajkumar’s second bill (A6077A) extends paid family leave benefits to domestic workers. Domestic workers who work at least 20 hours per week will now be entitled to paid family leave and temporary disability insurance. Previously, they needed to work at least 40 hours, despite a 20-hour minimum applying to all other industries.

These bills extend vitally-needed benefits and safeguards to a workforce that has historically been overlooked and under-protected. Domestic work is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, with over 300,000 domestic workers and 2.7 million households relying on them in New York State alone. Working informally and behind closed doors, domestic workers are vulnerable to exploitation, harassment, and discrimination. 

This vulnerability disproportionately affects immigrant women and women of color, who overwhelmingly make up the domestic workforce: in New York State, 93% of domestic workers are women, 69% are immigrants, and 30% are African American.

“With a new year comes a new era of dignity and respect for our domestic workers. They are a cornerstone of our economy and our society. By caring for our children, our aging parents, and our loved ones with disabilities, they allow so many of us the flexibility to pursue careers. Domestic workers deserve the same freedom from discrimination and harassment afforded anyone at an office desk,” said Rajkumar. “These laws will also extend crucial paid family leave benefits to domestic workers. Just as domestic workers provide care for us, we must provide them the paid leave they need if they or their loved ones are sick.”

Espaillat Tests Positive for COVID-19

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep Adriano Espaillat (Manhattan/Bronx) released the following statement after testing positive for COVID-19 last week: 

“I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am currently quarantining at home. I am fully vaccinated and received my booster earlier this winter. Although I remain asymptomatic, I am following the recommendations and will continue to test regularly over the next few days until my test results are negative. 

“Many will note that this is my second COVID-19 diagnosis following a previous infection in January of 2021. We have entered a new phase of the pandemic and are not fully out of the woods yet as the virus continues to surge in New York City and in communities around the nation. 

“As we enter the new year, it remains critical that we continue vigilance and caution, and I encourage everyone to get vaccinated and all eligible and at-risk residents to get the COVID-19 booster shot as soon as possible to help reduce hospitalizations and deaths – and ultimately help our communities get back on track.”

Lander’s Words After Being Sworn In

NYC Comptroller Brad Lander

Comptroller Brad Lander, after being sworn in this weekend, said one way to think about the Comptroller job is as NYC’s “Chief Accountability Officer,” but beneath that the job is all about what the city and its resident’s value.

“If we value our neighborhoods, then we must invest in truly affordable housing, resilient infrastructure, public transit, and good schools. If we value a fair economy, then we must protect the people whose work keeps our City going – with the dignity, pay, and pensions they need to care for themselves and their families. If we value good government, then we must shine the bright light of transparency on city agencies, and insist that they work better, to deliver on democratic promises. If we value our future, we must take bold action now to confront the climate crisis and transition to a green economy,” said Lander.

“My task — our task together – is to make sure that we are accounting for our shared values. The numbers must add up to a more just and equitable city where everyone has a chance to thrive.

“As we start the new year with a new administration, we are still facing down a public health crisis that has taken the lives of too many of our neighbors, disproportionately in communities of color, and disrupted our city’s economy, leaving many families still struggling. We must learn the lessons of this crisis to ensure we are better prepared for the next ones, and work together to secure a just recovery.”

Persaud Looks Forward to State Legislative Session

Roxanne J. Persaud
State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud

State Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Brooklyn) thanked her constituents for their support and encouragement as 2021 ended and said she looks forward to the start of the legislative session this month.

In the 2021 legislative year, we saw many successes and unfinished business. We celebrated our wins and will continue to advocate for those that we did not win because I am committed to always doing my best for our district,” said Persaud.  

“I am looking forward to joining my colleagues in a few days as we return to Albany to start the legislative session. As the Chairperson of the Senate Social Services Committee, my focus is making the lives of all New Yorkers better by providing the necessary resources to our most vulnerable constituents and assisting our small businesses, among other things,” she added.