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Solis and Ledbetter Push Paycheck Fairness Act

US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Lilly Ledbetter are working to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and held a webcast on the subject today. Ledbetter was the plaintiff in a discrimination case against the Goodyear Tire Company, where the Supreme Court ruling gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination. Equal pay legislation in Ledbetter’s name was later passed and signed by President Obama to correct the Supreme Court ruling. Equal pay advocates from a number of women’s groups have been pushing over the past week for the Senate to pass the bill before Congress recesses for the mid-term elections. In January 2009, the Paycheck Fairness Act was the first bill, along with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to be passed by the current House of Representatives. Now, more than a year later the Senate has yet to vote on the bill. If passed in the Senate and signed into law, it would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages. Additionally, it “would give [women] the courage to ask wage-related questions to employers”, said Ledbetter during the webcast. Ledbetter reminded listeners that the first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and that the Paycheck Fairness Act is the next step to achieving equal pay for equal work. The presentation highlighted Department of Labor statistics that show how the wage gap denies women an average of $323,000 by the time they are 65, even though they are doing the same work with the same qualifications as their male co-workers. Solis spoke about the fact that achieving equal pay for equal work would help not just women, but everyone in their families, to make ends meet, especially in the current difficult economic climate. It is the “best law we have [on the ballot]” said Ledbetter, who has traveled to many college campuses to give talks and educate young women about pay discrimination and the wage gap. “Young women need to know the law, and their rights.” Women currently only make 77 cents to the dollar that men make and on average, older women and women of color make significantly less.

Sources:

Department of Labor webcast 9/21/2010; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/12/2010; Feminist Majority E-mail 9/20/10