Domestic workers applaud new city ordinance that gives them the right to a written contract with an employer

Arise Chicago plans to offer training sessions to teach workers about their new rights.

SHARE Domestic workers applaud new city ordinance that gives them the right to a written contract with an employer
Beatriz Tlalolini, a nanny and an Arise Chicago member, speaks during a news conference Friday.

Beatriz Tlalolini, a nanny and an Arise Chicago member, speaks during a news conference Friday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Getting stiffed on wages. Being asked, as a favor, to take care of the kids when you’ve only been hired to clean. Having a pile of laundry dumped in your lap at the last minute, making you late for your next job.

House cleaners, nannies and other home-care givers in the city have long complained about being shown little respect by their employers. In the past, they say, they’ve simply had to accept it.

But now, a city ordinance that takes effect in January 2022 gives domestic workers the right to a written contract that covers such things as hours to be worked, wages and job responsibilities.

Arise Chicago, a workers rights organization that had been pushing for passage of the ordinance, said Friday it will begin this weekend holding training sessions for workers who want to learn more about the ordinance. For now, the training sessions — in English, Spanish and Polish — are online only. To learn more, go to www.arisechicago.org/dw.

“We work in the most vulnerable sector and are often not recognized for our work. With the contract, I can discuss the details of my job with my employer, so we both have the same understanding and expectations,” said Beatriz Tlalolini, both a nanny and house cleaner, speaking to reporters at Arise’s headquarters in the West Town neighborhood.

Arise said the ordinance will likely apply to “many thousands” of workers.

“It’s really hard to give an exact number because it changes day by day,” said Ania Jakubek, a domestic worker organizer with Arise.

Tlalolini said she’s been asked to take care of kids on jobs when she’s only been hired to clean.

“Mom or Dad says they need to run an errand and ask if I can take care of the kids as a favor,” Tlalolini said. “The problem is caring for children is not my job. ... What happens if one of the kids gets hurt? Who is responsible? Or what happens if I say no, will they fire me?”

But what if a worker, perhaps one who is not in the United States legally, is dealing with an employer who says they won’t agree to a contract?

“If an unscrupulous employer decides to not want to provide a written contract, we encourage them to contact Arise Chicago to help them deal with their employer,” said Militza Pagan, a staff attorney for Shriver Center on Poverty Law, which partners with Arise.

Legal remedies include being able to file a complaint with the Chicago Office of Labor Standards, Pagan said.

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