- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two men denounced ” and cursed ” the idea of a proposed domestic-workers law during a public hearing last night in Rockville, but the majority of the 14 speakers urged enactment of the bill that would require written contracts, minimum wages, overtime pay, vacations and holidays.

Many domestic workers live in the homes of their employers, and there also would be minimum conditions for their rooms.

The bill was proposed last month by council members George L. Leventhal and Marc Elrich, at-large Democrats who call the proposal the first of its kind in the country.

But, said Brad Botwin of Rockville, director of Help Save Maryland, “Our main goal is to eliminate the use of our tax dollars on programs and services for illegal aliens in Maryland.

“I see two major problems ” domestic employers will now be knowingly aiding and abetting, as well as harboring illegal alien workers,” and “illegal alien workers will be forced to reveal their illegal status or, worse, use false documentation to cover it.”

Council member Duchy Trachtenberg, at-large Democrat, called the bill “toothless.”

She said the bill would encourage investigations into the immigration status of such employees, including many who are illegal immigrants, which would have a “chilling effect” on employment.

The other objection was expressed without prepared notes by Matt Seubert, 38, of Germantown, who called the council “a bunch of tyrants.”

The comment drew applause from a few of about 50 people in the audience, but most were supportive of the legislation, which council members said likely would be amended before it is enacted.

The bill as written now calls for employers to provide written contracts to employees working at least 20 hours a week that define working conditions, hours and pay. Overtime pay would be 1.5 times the regular legal wage for 40 hours, and payments would be at least twice a month. Maryland’s minimum hourly wage is $6.15 an hour.

One provision for workers living in their employer’s house requires a private room for sleeping with a door that can be locked and access to a kitchen, a bathroom and laundry facilities.

The U.S. Census estimates there are 1.5 million domestic workers, including babysitters and housekeepers, in the United States.

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