Thursday, January 31, 2008

Leventhal and Trachtenberg Debate Domestic Worker Proposal

The Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU hosted a heated discussion between Councilmembers George Leventhal and Duchy Trachtenberg over the new proposal introduced by Leventhal and Councilmember Marc Elrich to require contracts for domestic workers who work more than 20 hours.

Trachtenberg believes that the proposal is "toothless" but would encourage people to investigate the legal status of employees and thus have a "chilling effect" on employment. Leventhal countered that federal law already requires immigration status checks and that the bill adds no new checks on unauthorized immigrants and is designed to protect a vulnerable population.

Trachtenberg then argued that women who do not have legal immigrant status have been unwilling to report assaults and rapes so that it is unlikely anyone would report violations under the legislation. She then went on to say we need more "culturally appropriate services". Leventhal pointed out that failure to adopt the bill would still provide "less protection" for workers against exploitation than without the bill.