Read Ellen Goodman's column on the Fair Pay Act
The night I landed in San Jose, the Senate blocked the advancement of the Fair Pay Act, aka the Lily Ledbetter Act.
I had emailed and talked to MomsRising friends about it, and I just now realized that I hadn't blogged about it!
I highly recommend that you read Ellen Goodman's new column, "The backward plight of the working woman." As much as I already knew about this bill, Goodman put it into perspective in a way that inflamed true outrage in me.
[Lily Ledbetter] was just 26 when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to enforce equality in the workplace. The old stalwart - equal pay for equal work - is so universally accepted that we choose to believe it's not just a law but a fact of life.
Our gal Ledbetter, however, worked for two decades in the not-so-female-friendly ranks of Goodyear. Only when she neared retirement did an anonymous tipster slip her a reality check about her paycheck. It turned out that as a female supervisor, she was earning less than her male counterparts. She was paid on average 79 cents for every male dollar, a figure suspiciously close to the national wage gap.
Ledbetter sued Goodyear and won. But Goodyear appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which decided 5-4 that she had to have sued within six months of her first unequal pay. That basically means that if employers can hide unequal pay for six months, they are scot free.
Goodman continues, An unequal paycheck is a thief that keeps on taking. Even in retirement, Ledbetter is still, in her own words, "a second-class worker" with a pension and Social Security check that carry Goodyear's bite marks.
The House of Representatives passed the Fair Pay Act to rectify this situation, stating that an employee could sue up to 180 days after the latest unequal paycheck.
Then last week the Senate failed to advance the bill. It received a majority of votes, 56 to 42 but needed 60 votes to clear a Republican procedural hurdle and move forward.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted for the bill. John McCain did not return to Washington to vote, which meant he effectively voted against it.
Here is a complete roll call that can tell you how your Senators voted. Please let your Senators know how you feel about this important piece of legislation.
MomsRising.org has a petition you can sign in support of the Equal Pay Act.
I've been in a number of interesting discussions with other feminists lately, and the Ledbetter Act is an important example of how many actions we have that we can all work on together. All women risk receiving unequal pay based on gender discrimination, and we need to flex our collective muscle to get this crucial law passed.