Nel's New Day

April 11, 2016

April 12: Equal Pay Day

Pay women less for doing the same job? There must be good reasons. Charge men more for cupcakes at a bake sale? Outrageous! That was the response to a fund-raiser at the University of Queensland of Australia for the women’s charity Share the Dignity to the point of death threats. The hosting organizations, Women’s Collective and women’s department of the student union, announced:

“Each baked good will only cost you the proportion of $1.00 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods [will] cost you $1.00!).”

Facebook posts included missing the “good ole days” when you could “beat a woman with a stick.” Reading the vile statements, some students responded, “I didn’t believe feminism was still relevant until I started reading all the comments.”

Australian women make 17.3 percent less than their male peers for the same work; in the U.S. women are paid about 22 percent less than men. Each year, Equal Pay Day, this year April 12, commemorates the gender gap to demonstrate how much longer women must work in the year to make as much as men do in the former year. The event is always on a Tuesday because that day represents how far into the next work week that women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.

The GOP and Fox network deny any pay disparity between the genders, claiming that women are not as smart or hardworking and that women are too emotional. Researchers, however, have discovered a cultural factor that shapes workplace gender roles—and gender salaries: religiosity. A three-percent increase in a state’s religiosity relates to a one-percent increase in gender wage-gap. In traditional Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—women are the family caregivers, meaning that they should be in the home, giving care. Religion conditions employers to believe that women should not work outside the home, affecting hiring, layoffs, and wages.

Presidential candidates follow the conservative pattern of gender pay gap. The “religiosity” test holds true for presidential candidate campaign workers. Joanna Rothkopf published an analysis of pay and discovered significant gender wage disparities in four of them. Bernie Sanders’ campaign had no women among the top highest-paid staffers during her research. Rothkopf used year-end finance reports for the last quarter of 2015 to answer these questions:

  • Do presidential campaigns employ a comparable number of women to men?
  • Do they pay female employees equitably?
  • Are an equal number of women given leadership roles and salaries to match?

She included only employees who received at least four paychecks and made a minimum projected annual salary of $24,000 during the quarter.

Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who provides equal gender pay for equal work. The Cruz campaign pays men an average of $20,000 more than women. John Kasich had one woman among the top ten staffers. He paid men about $5,000 more on the overall average and $15,000 more on a median salary. Trump’s male employees receive an average of $3,000 more than the women. Details are available here.

A large diversity between male and female pay hit the news on April Fool’s Day, the day after five members of the U.S. national women’s soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s national governing body, of wage discrimination. The team earned $23.5 million in U.S. games during the first quarter, more than the men’s national soccer team earned in the same time period, and the Federation projects a $5 million profit for women and a $1 million loss for the men’s games. Yet the Federation pays female players almost four times less than male players.

The women soccer team’s players aren’t really equal to men—they’re superior. Entering their third year without a major trophy, men are ranked #30. The women’s win in the 2015 World Cup set the television record for the highest rated soccer match in U.S. history and the most-watched soccer event U.S. people ever watched. Yet they also earn less than men for sponsorship appearances, have a smaller per diem while with the national team, and get a smaller share of ticket revenue bonuses. On top of that, they have substandard working conditions, forced to play on physically-damaging artificial turf while men get natural grass.

Jim Tankersley pointed out that this disparity exists throughout culture in the nation, hurting the economy:

“If talented women are paid arbitrarily less than similarly talented or less-talented men, the market is telling those women to work less than they optimally would….  Fewer women are working, as a share of the workforce, than they used to, even though women are more likely than men to graduate college and gain the skills that are in the highest demand in our increasingly service-based economy. At the same time, American productivity growth has slowed. One way to speed it up would be encouraging more highly productive women to do the work they’re best at.”

An analysis debunks the excuse that the pay gap is from comparing different jobs. In a new study of 505,000 salaries, women still make less even if they work for the same company and have the same job title: men make 5.4 percent more in base pay and get 7.4 percent more in overall compensation. These gaps are less than the almost 25 percent more that men make than women, but they are still significant especially because they are controlled for several variables, including age, education, years of experience, industry, occupation, state, and company size.

Glassdoor will host a 60-minute roundtable on pay equality featuring Hillary Clinton and other leaders, experts and advocates tomorrow, April 12, 2016, to be broadcast live at 6:30 PDT on Glassdoor.com.

New research has found that women are paid less because employers value their work less. A study from Cornell University shows that the pay drops significantly—an average of 20 percent—when women enter male-dominated fields. The field of recreation went from predominantly male to female in the second half of the 20th century, and median hourly wages dropped 57 percent. When many ticket agents were changed from male to female, the decrease in wages was 43 percent. In fields where men comprise the majority, the media pay is 21 percent higher than in occupations with a majority of women. Differences in the type of work that men and women account for 51 percent of the pay gap, greater than in 1980. Of the 30 highest-paying jobs, 26 are male-dominated.

Younger women may not notice the gender pay gap because they are paid $.88 for every dollar man is paid. Women over 65, however, are paid only $.40 for a man’s dollar, a reason that twice as many older women as men live in poverty. The inequality for women leads to lower pensions and lower Social Security, according to a new report released by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). She said:

“We’ve moved twenty cents in the right direction since 1963, but we have 21 cents more to go, and at the rate we’re going, the pay gap will not close until the year 2059. That’s a long time to wait, so I feel that we should get serious about this.”

GOP women in Congress front the party’s failure to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced almost two decades ago, that would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It includes preventing employers from retaliating against workers who discuss pay, requiring employers to explain why wage gaps between their male and female employees exist, and strengthening penalties for equal pay violations. Two years ago, two GOP women were the face of a committee that accused Democrats of “politicizing” the issue, and a year ago, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), facing a tough election this year, cast her fourth vote against the bill.

Both Democratic candidates and GOP candidate Donald Trump support equal pay for women. Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act three separate times, and Sanders co-sponsored it. Throughout her campaign, Hillary Clinton has argued that paying women an equal wage for equal work would give an economic boost to the nation. Last October she sent this tweet when a GOP senator blocked a measure urging equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams.

“Whether you’re a teacher, an executive, or a world-champion soccer player, you deserve equal pay.”

John Kasich has not taken a clear stance on equal pay, but he talked about the relationship of gender wage gap to skill and experience before he backpedalled by saying, “I understand that if you exclude women, you’re not as effective.” Ted Cruz’ website does not address the issue, but he voted against the act three times during his one term as senator.

Women comprise two-thirds of the nation’s 20 million low-wage workers. Nearly one-fourth of the low-wage workforce are female; only 12 percent of men are in the same category.

Working full-time, year-round, a woman earns $10,800 less per year than a man according to the Pay Inequality report. That’s a difference of almost one-half million dollars for a lifetime that also affect Social Security and any other pensions. The gender pay gap is larger in the U.S. than 22 of 34 developed countries. Equal pay would cut the number of women who live in poverty by one-half and boost the GDP by 2.9 percent.

Happy (Un)Equal Pay Day!

September 17, 2014

Borowitz on the Paycheck Fairness Act

Filed under: Discrimination,Women's issues — trp2011 @ 8:50 PM
Tags: ,

The four female U.S. senators voted against equal pay for women two days ago because maybe women didn’t deserve it, or it was political to support women, or maybe women already get equal pay. Satirist Andy Borowitz highlights the hypocrisy of their position in the New Yorker.

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Two days after voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would help women to obtain equal pay, the four female Republicans in the United States Senate co-sponsored a bill that would slash their salaries to seventy-one per cent of what their male colleagues earn.

The senators—Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)—said that the best way to take a stand against big government’s intrusive attempts to mandate equal pay for women was to take a twenty-nine-per-cent pay cut themselves.

“The days of the federal government forcing us to earn as much as male senators are over,” Ayotte said. “We will not stop fighting until we make twenty-nine per cent less.”

Fischer said that after voting down paycheck equity for women across America, the female Republican senators realized that they themselves were “burdened by the tyranny of equal pay” in the U.S. Senate.

“All we are asking for is the same freedom from equal pay that other American women enjoy,” Ayotte said.

Though the bill was just proposed on Wednesday morning, Murkowski said that it already has the unanimous support of male Republicans in the Senate.

September 16, 2014

GOP Supports Equal Pay, Unanimously Votes against It

Filed under: Elections,War,Women's issues — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
Tags: , ,

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While ISIL dominates the news, Congress continues to vote against the people of the United States. In last night’s vote, the four female GOP senators joined the rest of their caucus in a unanimous vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act. It was the third time since 2012 that the GOP has voted down the bill. The legislation required 60 votes to move on to debate but received only 52, a unanimous vote from Democrats.

New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte (left) thinks that it would prohibit merit-based pay. She also voted against it because Democrats opposed her amendment to the legislation.

Maine’s Susan Collins (second from left) thinks that the Civil Rights Act the 1963 Equal Pay Act are enough protection to provide equal pay. According to Collins, the proposed law would “impose a real burden … on small businesses.” She thinks that women get paid less because of their own choices.

Nebraska’s Deb Fischer (second from right) accused Democrats of politics for putting the bill forward for the second time, this time one week before the congressional recess for midterm elections.

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski is on the right.

All four of these women benefit from equal pay. Each one gets $174,000 a year for being in Congress, exactly the same amount as male congressional members take home. That’s 4.6 times women workers’ media yearly income, but only 3.5 times that of working men.

At the beginning of September, the Republican National Party sent this tweet: “This #LaborDay, the White House & Democrats believe paying women less than men is an acceptable practice.” It appears that none of the U.S. Senators got the tweet.

GOP tweetThe bill bans salary secrecy that currently punishes employees from exchanging information about amounts of salary. Although mandated secrecy is illegal, about half the private sector workers are told that they cannot talk about pay. The wage gap has shrunk in workplaces that don’t ban this secrecy. Pay scales are usually transparent in the federal workforce, and the wage gap there has fallen significantly during the past 20 years. There is also less wage gap among unionized workers that also have the wage transparency.

The proposed law would also narrow definitions of justifications for pay differences between men and women with the same skills, responsibilities, and working conditions.

Some industries, such as finance, pay women 66 percent of men’s wages; overall women get 71 cents for every dollar that men receive. Women’s poverty rate is 13 percent, compared to 11 percent for men, and women in low-wage jobs make 13 percent less than men do in similar jobs.

A “low-wage” job is one with an hourly median pay of $10.10 or less. Women comprise about two-thirds of low-wage works in the United States. About 80 percent of these workers have finished high school, and some have completed some college or have an associate’s degree. They struggle to support families on the $7.25 per hour, which brings an annual salary of $14,500.

Terminology leads to unequal pay for men and women. Maids and housekeepers, traditionally women, are paid less than janitors, a job typically with men. The work is basically the same, but women are paid less. Leadership positions such as manager and supervisor typically go to men.

Despite laws protecting pregnant workers and mothers, these women can be discriminated against in bizarre ways. Doctors tell pregnant women to stay well hydrated, but employers tell them that they cannot carry a bottle of water.

Top on the GOP Senate agenda, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is tax breaks for big business. In a speech last week, Hatch told business leaders how angry he was that Reid had procedurally blocked an amendment to extend a large number of expiring business tax breaks for two years. “I’m ready to kill somebody,” Hatch said as he left the stage. That was after he promised that those tax breaks would pass by the end of the year.

Nothing about immigration reform, extending unemployment benefits, energy efficient legislation, infrastructure bills including highway funding, Voting Rights Act legislation, and all 12 annual appropriations bills.

Over in the House, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) addressed an issue of great importance last week. The chair of the Science Committee had a hearing on privatizing asteroids. Introduced by Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the bipartisan legislation states:

“Any resources obtained in outer space from an asteroid are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto. Any assertion of superior right to execute specific commercial asteroid resource utilization activities in outer space shall prevail if it has found to be first in time, derived upon a reasonable basis, and in accordance with all existing international obligations of the United States.”

Finders, keepers out there—except for the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, barring nations from claiming extraterrestrial land as sovereign territory. The bill also no ban on mining efforts that harm or impair scientific causes or public interests. Plus there’s no indication that the U.S. is even close to needing such a law.

The Science Committee has a number of colorful characters including Mo Brooks (R-AL) who warns about a “war on whites,” Steve Stockman (R-TX) who debuted a bumper sticker reading “If Babies Had Guns They Wouldn’t Be Aborted,” and Paul Broun (R-GA) who referred to evolution and the Big Bang as “lies from the pit of hell.”

If the House can tear themselves away from debates about outer space, it will discuss and vote on the president’s proposal to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels in the war on ISIL. The proposal will probably be an amendment to the Continuing Resolution to keep the nation from a federal government shutdown in two weeks. No money is attached to the amendment, but the Pentagon can shift existing funds for any needs.

The public polls in favor of air strikes and training but opposes the use of U.S. forces in the Middle East. With Election Day in 49 days, representatives have to use careful language not to offend their constituents. Over in the Senate, Roger Wicker (R-MS) wanted to know how long it would take to win, what the definition of victory is, and a number of other issues that certainly won’t bring any definitive answers.

The rest of September in Congress will be the GOP dance to stay out of trouble until November 4.

April 14, 2014

GOP Continue Bashing Women

Equal Pay Day, the day of the year that marks the additional time women need to work in order to match men’s pay the previous year, usually goes by with not much attention. Most people probably don’t even know that it happens. Not so this year, partly because of the Paycheck Fairness Act that failed in the Senate with 54 votes. The mere thought of equal pay released a firestorm of negative reactions from conservatives. These are some responses to gender equity pay from the far-right:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “[The Democrats just want to blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left.” It’s all part of the Dems’ “never-ending political road show.” [Is that what he’ll say when he runs against a woman this fall—if he wins his contested primary?]

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX): “This whole thing is really backfiring on the administration and on our Democratic friends because people are seeing it for what it is: It’s a transparent political campaign. It isn’t actually about solving problems, because the law of the land is already paycheck equity.” [No, it isn’t.]

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS): “[The bill is] “condescending . . . Some folks don’t understand that women have become an extremely valuable part of the workforce today on their own merit, not because the government mandated it.” [Translation: My pay is equal. Why should I care about anyone else.]

GOP Senate hopeful from Michigan Terri Lynn Land: “Well, we all like to be paid more and that’s great. But the reality is that women have a different lifestyle. They have kids, they have to take them to get dentists’ appointments, doctors’ appointments all those kinds of things, and they’re more interested in flexibility in a job than pay.” [And she expects women to vote for her?]

RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski: On a television talk show, she couldn’t manage to answer a question about what pay equity policies her party would support. [Probably because there aren’t any.]

Fox stalwart Bill O’Reilly: “I’m not buying this inequality business.” [No, but the women do.]

Another Fox … Megyn Kelly: “Now they think you’re anti-woman if you question that meme about equal pay.” [The position of a woman who Sheryl Sandberg, busy touting her new business-friendly book Lean In for Graduates, calls a “good friend.”]

Executive director of the Texas Republican Party Beth Cubriel: Women will get better pay when they learn to negotiate like men. [Then they’ll be called bitches.]

Leader of Red State Women Cari Cristman: Women are too busy to need equal pay laws.  [They might have more time if they received equal pay.]

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA): Avoiding reference to gender equity pay, he wants Democrats to “put the politics aside” and talk with Republicans about “things that we can do together, things that disproportionately impact women, without playing politics.” [As if the pay gap doesn’t “disproportionately impact women”!]

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): His budget, just passed in the House by all except 12 Republicans disproportionately cut women’s benefits. [There’s that “disproportionately” again!]

Host of Fox Business, Melissa Francis, has the most bizarre rationale for women being paid less. For her, the gender pay gap is positive because women were better able to keep their jobs during the recession than men. To her, the less that women make, the better off they are. She’s even wrong with her belief that women kept their jobs because they get paid less. The recession hurt men more because jobs in the male arena were more likely to disappear. The rapidly-growing service industry employs a large number of women whereas manufacturing, mining, logging, and construction hire more men. And Francis is the host of a business program!

Republicans have found other ways to drive women away from the GOP:

Charles Murray, education advisor to GOP Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, said he has found no “evidence” to prove that any woman had been a “significant original thinker in any of the world’s great philosophical traditions.” In his speech at the University of Texas, Murray also declared that women’s brains are smaller than men’s. Like most other Texas Republicans, he thinks that the gender pay gap is a “myth.” Abbott is now avoiding the press.

George Bush’s CIA director Michael Hayden, disturbed because the committee led by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) approved the release of a report on U.S. torture of prisoners, referred to her as “emotional.” He was talking about a report, passed 11-3, that he hasn’t seen and that is well supported by documents about the “interrogation techniques.”

The Florida House considers words such as “uterus” to be “inappropriate” language for young interns, who were all sent out of the chamber while the Republicans discussed more draconian measures against women’s reproductive rights. The teenagers were allowed back in to hear about “bleeding chest wounds” during a discussion on guns.

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA), caught kissing his aide six weeks after his election last fall, solved his problem by firing her. Married for 16 years with five children, the highly religious man plans to stick it out for the fall election despite opposition from his governor, Bobby Jindal, and the leader of the state GOP. On the other hand, the GOP stuck by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) who was re-elected after he admitted “serious sins” with hookers.

Detroit News’ editorial page editor and columnist, Nolan Finley, wrote about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schnauer’s running mate, Lisa Brown. “She’s still milking the vagina business and is a minor celebrity among feminists.”

The GOP has one solution to help women get more money: marry a wealthy man. A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research called “Marry Your Like: Mating and Income Inequality” places the blame for the ongoing increase of inequality on “assertive mating,” the tendency of similar people marrying each other. Their conclusion is that extreme income inequality will only grow worse because people with similar incomes marry each other. The paper does skip the disappearance of the middle class from lower wages and lack of job access and policies that favor the top one percent. Women should just marry up.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) also believe–wrongly–that marriage makes women wealthier. Ralph Reed makes it even simpler. His solution is to stop making divorce so easy.

The GOP also has a new initiative to attract women voters, the “14 in ‘14.”  The Republican National Committee wants to recruit and train women under 40 to talk about the GOP message in the last 14 weeks of its campaign. Candidates should put their wives and children in their advertising, make sure that women attend their events, and establishing a database of women who will campaign for them. The project started with “Project GROW”—which didn’t—in which the GOP would recruit women candidates for Congress. With fewer GOP women running this year than in 2012, the women will be the wives in the television commercials.

According to a CNN poll, 55 percent of people, including 59 percent of women, think that the GOP doesn’t understand women’s problems in current times. In addition to opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act, Republicans refuse to consider a hike in minimum wage. The GOP wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which helps far more women than men.

Because of the GOP, both in their policies and the way that they have forced Democrats to the right, the United States is #23 in the world behind Barundi and Lesotho. This information comes from the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report that “examines the gap between men and women in four fundamental categories: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment.” Of the 110 countries in every report since the initial report in 2006, 95 have shown improvement over the last four years. Globally, women are living longer and healthier, gaining more access to education, and participating more in political decision making.

One state is trying to make a difference for women and families. The Minnesota House has passed Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) on to the Senate despite a complaint from one GOP member who said it make women look as if they were “whining.” The bill improves parental leave, affordable childcare, gender pay gap, retirement security, and economic consequences of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. It’s not a done deal, but it’s a start.

April 8, 2014

Equal Pay Day – GOP Disses Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:30 PM
Tags: , , ,

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Presidents frequently sign a proclamation to note important dates, but President Barack Obama went far beyond a statement of support today. On Equal Pay Day 2014, the president has signed two new executive orders to move women toward equal pay with men.

Both orders are similar to provisions in the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that the Senate is considering this week but the House is pretty sure to ignore:

  1. Prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who share salary information with others.
  2. Instruct the Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to report wage-related data to the government.

The Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act that would not only include these two provisions for most other employers but also require them to prove that gender differences in pay are based on issues other than sex. In addition, it would strengthen penalties for violations in equal pay.

President Obama began supporting equal pay as soon as he took over the office in January 2009. His first act was to sign an equal pay bill inspired by the SCOTUS decision against Lily Ledbetter, who discovered after 20 years with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. that men in her same job with equal or less experience earned much more money than she did. When she sued, SCOTUS maintained that she had only 180 days from being hired to complain, despite the fact that she didn’t learn about the different wages for 20 years. Congress passed the law that made the 180 days contingent on learning about the inequities.

Equal Pay Day is named for the date each year to show how far women must work into the current year to match the pay that men made the previous year. This year that day is April 8, better than April 18 in 2005, but not as good as April 3 in 1998. In Europe, Equal Pay Day is March 12 this year, showing that European women are closer to equality than we are in the United States.

Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 reaffirmed the Equal Pay Act, signed by President John F. Kennedy a year earlier on June 10, 1963.  That  legislation “prohibits discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers,” and the 1964 act prohibits employer discrimination on sex, race, religion, and/or nationality. Yet women who work full time in the U.S. make an average of 77 cents for every dollar men make. Black and Hispanic women make much less, and the disparity is growing. Hispanics currently make 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Even considering factors contributing to the gap such as industry, education, college major, and location, men are still paid 7 percent more than women.

Young women who recently graduated from college earn only 82 percent of the salaries of their recently graduated male counterparts who studied the same majors, completed the same degrees, and entered the same occupations. In 2012, personal care and service work was the only one of 265 major occupations in which women made, on average, more than men.

Lisa Maatz, AAUW Vice President of Government Relations, wrote about the gender pay gap:

  1. The pay gap hasn‘t budged in a decade.
  2. Women in every state experience the pay gap, but some states are worse than others—Wyoming at the bottom with women paid 64 percent of what men were paid in 2012.
  3. The pay gap grows with age, beginning with 90 percent until age 35 and then dropping.
  4. The pay gap also exists among women without children.

Republicans argue that the issue is a distraction and that the proposed legislative solution is unnecessary. Texas Gov. Rick Perry used this argument when he appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, calling the debate in the state governor’s race “nonsense,” saying the Democrats should focus on “substantive issues.” The gubernatorial candidates are Perry’s friend, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and the woman who filibustered against abortion restrictions for 11 hours, state Sen. Wendy Davis. Perry is considering another presidential run in 2016.

To protect Texas retailers, Perry  vetoed a bill last year to allow victims of wage discrimination to sue in state court. The Texas Retailers Association and the Texas Association of business and the National Federation of Independent Businesses secretly requested the gubernatorial veto. The bill would have benefited people in the state because they would have easier access and less expense in state courts. Retailers objected to including retirement checks that weren’t included in the bill.

Also ignoring women voters, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, asked what the Paycheck Fairness Act would do for men.

Conservatives use a variety of arguments in their attempts trying to show that there is no pay inequality between men and women: different career paths, more overtime in male-dominated blue-collar work, fewer hours worked by women. These arguments don’t consider the research in pay difference when both men and women with the same skills work the same jobs for the same number of hours and in the same conditions. Women are also punished if they ask about wage differences, keeping them from trying to get equal pay.

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly called unequal gender pay a “meme,” and Dana Loesch said it is a “myth.” Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is struggling with re-election as Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin forces him to the right, calls gender equality in pay a “bizarre obsession.” McConnell will likely win the primary in a few weeks, but then he’s up against Alison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell already voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010 which doesn’t fit well with his statement that he’s always supported women. His record says otherwise as he voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and against renewing the Violence against Women Act in 2013. In Kentucky, women make only 72 cents for every man’s dollar. Luckily for McConnell he’s raking in the donations, even from dead people.

In addition to claiming that equal pay would be a “burden” on employers, the GOP talking point is that Democrats didn’t bother to do anything about it when they had a majority in both chambers of Congress and the presidency. The statement is wrong, either through ignorance or lying. When the Dems brought up the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010, it passed with House, then controlled by the Democrats, although 97 percent of the GOP voted against it. In the Senate, the bill got only 58 votes, two votes short of the new “majority” of 100 senators because of the filibuster. The Democrats tried again in 2012, but failed. This week if the Senate passes the Paycheck Fairness Act again, the GOP-controlled House needs only one person to vote it down—Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) when he refuses to bring it to the chamber.

If women earned equal pay for equal work, the country’s economy would boost GDP by 2.9 percent or almost $450 billion and cut the poverty rate in half for working women.

The next time a person says, “We’re all for equal pay,” ask them why they don’t vote for it. If they say that women already have legal pay, ask them why they’re fighting a bill if it’s not any problem.

 

January 29, 2014

GOP Hurts Economy in Restricting Women, Wages

My email contained the following from my Oregon senator Jeff Merkley. He’s one of the reasons that I’m proud to live in Oregon:

“Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tires for almost 20 years. Just before her retirement, an anonymous coworker left her a tip that she was being paid less than all her male coworkers in the same position. Even though Lilly proved in court that she had been paid less because of her gender, the Supreme Court ruled that her employer didn’t have to make her whole because she hadn’t brought her case when the pay discrimination began – decades before she ever knew about it.

“Fortunately, Lilly didn’t give up. She fought to change the law, and she won.

“This week is the fifth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act being signed into law. I was proud that I got to vote for Lilly’s bill as one of my first acts as a U.S. Senator. This law is proof that even one person fighting for fairness and equality can make a huge difference. But it’s also a reminder of how far we have to go to make sure that women have equal opportunity and equal pay in the workplace.

“Women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. That is just plain wrong. It’s unfair, unequal, and it cuts into millions of families’ bottom lines. Too often, our legal system still doesn’t work for women who try to find justice in the courts. Thanks to Lilly, they no longer face unfair statutes of limitations that require them to seek justice before they might even know they face pay discrimination. But there is more work to be done. That is why I am fighting to give women stronger tools to fight wage discrimination by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“In 2014, it is long past time for pay discrimination to be a thing of the past. Please know that I will keep fighting for workplace fairness for all Americans.”

Last night in his fifth State of the Union speech, President Obama addressed the same issue.

“Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running hardship—and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), as usual fact-challenged, stated during an interview on NPR today that the difference in pay between men and women is a myth. First he said that young women were making an equal salary to men, and then he followed with his belief that women make the same in the same types of jobs. Both beliefs are wrong. A 2012 study considering factors affecting earnings such as education, parenthood, and hours worked, shows that college-educated women still earn 7 percent less than their male peers just one year out of school even when they have the same major and occupation. That difference increases over time because benefits and raises based on wages are better for men. Paul’s only reason for his beliefs is that the women in his family are doing fine.

Conservatives refuse to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, although it has 207 co-sponsors in the House and 50 in the Senate. According to a recent study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, however, the U.S. economy would produce an additional $447.6 billion in income if women received equal pay—a definite boon to both men and women.

According to the new report from Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, closing the gap in earnings between men and women would cut the poverty rate in half for working women. Paying women who work full time, year round the same as men would boost their incomes by $6,250 a year on average. The change would raise 3 million working women above the poverty line and boost GDP by $450 billion.

A clear difference between male and female salaries is demonstrated by the Oakland Raiders. Both football players (male) and cheerleaders (female) attend practices and 300 games and events each year. The men make between $405,000 and $5.8 million; the women each make $1,250 for the season, less than $5.00 per hour. The $5.00 per hours goes down if they bring the wrong pompoms, wear the wrong workout gear to practice, or forget their yoga mats. There is also no reimbursement for travel expenses or photo shoots. The cheerleaders have just filed a lawsuit against the team for wage theft and unfair labor practices.

Increasing the minimum wage could start to decrease the wage gap between wages for men and for women. Women disproportionately work in low-wage sectors, live on minimum-wage salaries and, thanks to working a lifetime at unequal pay, are significantly more likely than men to outlive their savings. Women represent nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers. A woman working full time, year round at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour earns just $15,080. Women are the sole or primary breadwinners in roughly 40 percent of U.S. households nowadays.

Last night the president called for a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour and stated that he was signing an executive order mandating this minimum wage for all companies that receive federal contracts. This requirement does not cover existing contracts, but the mandate will affect about 560,000 employees in new contracts. Although $10.10 an hour is not a living wage almost everywhere in the United States, it’s a start.

Numbers in the story of the minimum wage:

73:  the percentage of Americans who support it.

53:  the percentage of Republicans who support it.

273:  the ratio of the average CEO salary to that of the average worker. In 1965, CEOs made only 20 times the salary of the average worker.

$10.46:  what the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had simply kept up with inflation since 1968.

$18.72:  what the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had kept pace with gains in worker productivity since 1968.

$28.34:  what the minimum wage would have been in 2012 if it had grown at the same rate as the wages of the top 1 percent since 1968.

$15,080:  the annual earnings of a full-time minimum-wage worker at today’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage, which is $4,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.

17,000,000:  the number of women, who make up approximately two-thirds of low-wage workers whose wages would rise.

28,000,000:  the number of workers whose wages would rise.

$32,600,000,000: the increase in economic activity during the period it is being phased in.

$51,000,000,000:  the increased wages that workers would earn while it is being phased in.

While conservatives ignore the needs of women and the poor, they spend their time trying to control women’s lives. Tuesday the House passed The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) that prevents insurance plans sold in the new health care exchanges from covering abortion and eliminates tax benefits for small businesses that purchase insurance plans covering abortion. At this time, more than 80 percent of private health insurance plans include abortion coverage.

The bill would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to subsidize abortion care for low-income women. It even bans abortions for women in state exchanges to pay for their insurance with their personal, private funds. Extremists such as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) think that they need the bill to keep taxpayer dollars from funding abortion when in fact the Hyde Amendment did that over 30 years ago.

H.R 7 will not see the light of day as long as Barack Obama is president. In Texas, however, a brain-dead woman was kept alive for over two months because a Texas law seems to allow the state to keep a pregnant woman on life support even if she had not wished for this to happen. Texas is not alone: 31 other states have laws restricting doctors’ actions regarding terminally ill women who are pregnant. The state took the woman off life support only after a court order to do so. Although the fetus had been oxygen deprived for the same length of time as the women, it took a court order to follow the wishes of the woman and her family.

In the official Republican response to the president’s State of the Union speech, Rep. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said, “Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s.” Rodgers voted in support of H.R. 7 which puts government in between a woman and her doctor.

Fox network women are getting fed up with their abusive colleague Erick Erickson in his attacks against Wendy Davis, famous for her 11-hour filibuster in an attempt to keep the Texas legislature from passing more extremely restrictive anti-choice laws. For the past six months, Erickson has used a number of perjoratives, including “Abortion Barbie,” against the Texas legislator. Greta van Susteren called him a “jerk” who is “really lousy at being a spokesperson for his views.” Megyn Kelley called Erickson out for his statement that women are “complementary” to men and children are hurt in families if women are the primary breadwinners.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) summed up a response to House Republicans: “My question to you is this: What century are you living in?” 

May 2, 2013

Ayotte Doesn’t Want More Laws

In the past, feminists have had discussions about whether it is against feminism to oppose women who are against feminist policy. There are some out there who think that a feminist approach is to support any woman in leadership—let’s say Sarah Palin—no matter how much they want to destroy the rights of women.

I’m one of those feminists who think that support should go to those who want to create equality between males and females. That means that I don’t support Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The country has been in a buzz after she was the first senator north of Virginia to vote against background checks. But that’s not my gripe today although I haven’t forgiven her vote on that issue either.

With women making 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man, some Congressional lawmakers support the an equal pay act that would try to rectify this inequality. But not Kelly Ayotte. During one of her town hall meetings during this week’s recess, she flatly stated that Congress had done enough for equal pay for the two genders. As everyone who dodges voting yes on laws, she used the tired excuse that government just needs to enforce existing laws.

A member of the audience asked Ayotte the following:

“My grandmother, who was an extremely intelligent woman, trained many, many men who then became her boss, and so on and so forth. [She] never received a pension, never, um, was really paid what she was worth. And I was disappointed that you voted against the Equal Pay Act, but maybe there was something in the bill that you thought would be detrimental to the economy or whatever. But I was curious if you could explain your philosophy about equal pay and how, maybe, you could suggest something that we could all agree upon so that women would stop making 75 cents for every dollar a man makes …”

Ayotte answered:

“We have existing laws — Title VII, um, Lilly Ledbetter, all those existing protections in place — that, I believe, enforce and provide that people doing equal jobs are, certainly in this country, should receive equal pay. So, uh, that bill, in my view, didn’t add — in fact I think it created a lot of additional burdens that would have been hard, um, to make it more difficult for job creators to create jobs… The reason that I voted against that specific bill is that, I looked at it, and there were already existing laws that need to be enforced and can be enforced and I didn’t feel like adding that layer was going to help us better get at the equal pay issue.”

Ayotte ignored the fact that the pay gap exists because lawmakers are trying to close it. It is true that the pay gap narrowed after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but progress on the pay gap stalled in the 1990s. It’s been almost flat since then.

pay-gap-chart-e1367503787795

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was necessary because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that removed earlier protections in connection with pay inequity. It’s different from the Paycheck Fairness Act. Ayotte didn’t address the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would definitely not “make it more difficult for job creators to create jobs,” as she suggests.

Because employers can avoid liability under the Equal Pay Act, there is a need to ensure that employers’ pay decisions have legitimate reasons to pay one employee more than another, such as “education, training, or experience,” instead of arbitrary justification. The Act also forbids employers from retaliation against employees who try to find out how their pay compares to wages that their colleagues get.

Ayotte supported employers’ rights to not have rational reasons for paying female workers less. She gave employers the right to retaliate against employees who try to find out if they are being fairly treated.

Ayotte is still struggling with justifying her vote against a background check for people buying guns. The Manchin-Toomey background check proposal would not have created a national firearms registry. It actually would have strengthened current law barring the creation of any such registry and stiffened penalties against any official who violated or tried to violate the prohibition. But Ayotte seems to know as little about the bill she voted against as she does about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This is the reason that she gave for voting against background checks:

“I will tell you in terms of a universal background check, as it’s been framed, I have a lot of concerns about that leading to a registry that will lead to a privacy situation for lawful firearms owners.”

New Hampshire voters are not happy with Ayotte. When a man in a town hall meeting asked her why she voted against background checks, several of the 250 people in the audience applauded.

In Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is still struggling with the response to his voting against the background check. First, he said the polls went down after his vote because of the polls were wrong, and then the next day he said that he just looked like “pond scum.” Yesterday on an interview on KJZZ radio, he switched back to blaming the polls for making him look unpopular:

“There was a famous PPP poll just a couple of days ago that — the five Republicans who voted against this, you know, supposedly our poll number have dropped dramatically. And I’ve no doubt they have because of the way the poll is structured. It said, I believe, ‘Do you believe that Jeff Flake voted against background checks?’ Now somebody who got that poll could just as easily assume that I voted to repeal current background checks. And so background checks are popular, but I believe that people recognize that universal background checks, that’s a little more difficult thing to define.”

He tried the optimistic approach when he said, “I think in the end, people understand that you’re there, you read the legislation, you try to make the situation better.”

For the record, the PPP poll asked, “Does Jeff Flake’s vote against requiring background checks make you more or less likely to support him for re-election, or does it not make a difference?” Nineteen percent of respondents answered “more likely,” 52 percent said “less likely” and 24 percent said “no difference.”

So Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) think that we don’t need to make any laws about guns because criminals won’t respect them, and Ayotte thinks that we already have enough laws to protect people in guns and fair pay. They should give their salary (equal between the males and females) back to the government and go back to their home states. They should let people who want to legislate laws stay in Washington to do that.

April 9, 2013

Still Not Equal

Supposed you make $36,000 a year, and you could magically make $10,000 more. That miracle would happen if you could overcome the gender gap in earnings: on average, women make the $36,000, and men make $46,000. That difference was “celebrated” today on Equal Pay Day, the day when women’s last year’s wages catch up with men’s wages of one year. That’s how far women have to work into 2013 to earn as much as a man got paid by December 31, 2012.

There’s a bit of good news: Equal Pay Day came eight days earlier than last year. But there’s still bad news: it still took 99 days to do this because women’s earnings are 77 percent of men’s.

Despite the conservatives’ cry of family values, the lack of equal pay between men and women seriously affects families. A guest column for The Oregonian pointed out how the wage gap disproportionately affects mothers’ economic stability with the “motherhood penalty” approximated at 5 percent per child. The wage gap contributes out to the fact that “motherhood is a leading predictor of poverty in old age in our country.” In the United States, three-fourths of all mothers work outside the home with 40 percent of them the primary breadwinners.

Listen to the conservatives, and you might think that it’s because women don’t work as many hours or they just choose to stay at home more than men do. For full-time employees, 60 percent of the gap comes from work experience (10 percent), union status (4 percent), occupation choice (27 percent), and other differences such as maternity leave or child care. Another 25 percent comes from the difference between the high-valued male industries such as construction, manufacturing, and mining and lower-paid female-oriented service-sector or clerical positions.

Women still need more education to earn as much as men during their lifetimes. For example, a women needs a doctoral degree to earn the same as a man with a bachelor’s degree; a man with a high school education will earn about the same as a woman with a bachelor’s degree.

There remains, however, the unexplained gap of over 10 cents on the dollar, 40 percent of the difference, resulting in a shortage of $4,465 per year for that woman making the average salary of $36,000. It is this difference that could be corrected by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and establishing a commission to address the gender pay gap, as Jane Farrell, Research Assistant for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress, and Sarah Jane Glynn, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center, recommend.

The United States needs a National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force that would bring together the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Personnel Management to address barriers to pay equity and recommend solutions.

Of the 534 occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earn more than men in exactly seven professions. These employ about 1.5 million women, about 3 percent of full-time female workforce.  In these seven occupations, women earn an average of 6.4 percent over men whereas in the occupations where men earn significantly more than women the difference is 39.5 percent.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is designed to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963. On her blog, Joanne Tosti-Vasey gives directions to get information about the status of the Paycheck Fairness Act. In the search box in the middle of the page, type in “Paycheck Fairness Act” and click search.  On the next page, two bills will show up—S. 84 and HR 377.  This page provides several links to information about both of these bills—text, bill history, co-sponsors, etc. If you click on “cosponsors” for each bill, you can determine if your representatives are publicly supporting the bill or not. If they are a sponsor, thank them and then ask them to call for a hearing on vote on the bill.  If they are not, ask them to sign on.You can check to see if your representatives in Congress have co-sponsored the bill.

If $10,000 doesn’t sound like much, think about the fact that this totals up to over $400,000 during the 40 years of work history. A woman would have to work almost 12 years longer to make up this gap. A typical woman working year round who starts, but does not graduate from high school, would have to work 17 years longer. AAUW (American Association of University Women) has updated The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, which includes state-by-state rankings of the pay gap, the pay gap by age, race/ethnicity, resources for fair pay advocates, and help for women facing workplace discrimination.

The Nation has seven ways to eliminate the wage gap between women and men:

End salary secrecy.  Half of all workers are discouraged or prohibited from telling their colleagues their salaries. You can’t sue for equal salary if you don’t know what it is.

Raise the minimum wage. About two-thirds of workers making minimum wage are women, and two-thirds of workers in tipped occupations are women. Those occupations often pay far less than minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would mean raises for 28 million workers. Despite critics claiming that doing this would increase unemployment, a comparison between counties that raised and failed to raise the minimum wage shows no negative impact. Equal pay, including raising the minimum wage, would be a bonus to the country through stimulating the economy. Low-income employees immediately spend any additional wages on basics such as groceries, housing, transportation, and other expenses.

Fix the broken career pipeline. Men are far more likely to move to higher-paying positions than women despite parenting, experience, or aspiration.

Pass family leave policies. If men had to parent a much as women do, lawmakers would quickly pass paid family leave laws. Without these, women are the ones to stay home with children whenever necessary and the ones to lose wages for doing this.

Increase childcare support. Women’s careers can be disrupted by inability to get childcare, but higher pay and better benefits are correlated with a continuous work history.  If the government fully funded childcare programs, mother’s overall employment would increase 10 percent.

Encourage unionization. Increased unionization rates are correlated with a smaller wage gap, as much as 10 percent more. Non-union workers have twice as many problems with discouragement or prohibition in telling colleagues their wages as compared to union workers.

End occupational segregation. Women are not in higher unemployment because they are more likely to be public sector workers, an area that has lost over 800,000 jobs in the past four years. On the other hand, the number of manufacturing and construction positions has increased. Not only are there more jobs but these also pay more than public sector jobs.

In support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) wrote:

“Nearly 50 years after the passing of the Equal Pay Act, women are still being redlined, sidelined and pink slipped because we fight for equal pay for equal work. Equal pay is not just for our pocketbooks, it’s about family checkbooks and getting it right in the law books.”

December 8, 2012

NOW Comes to Town, Part 3

The first two blogs about NOW issues discussed women’s reproductive rights, violence against women, and racism. Following are additional issues regarding the current inequality of women.

Lesbian Rights: Currently the GOP is spending our taxpayer money, by now over $1.5 million, to continue the ban on marriage equality. Inability to be married discriminates against same-sex couples in more than 1000 federal laws, many of them costing a great deal of money. Although lesbians and gays are now permitted to openly serve in the military, their partners lack the same rights as married partners, refusing them housing and other benefits. People complain about the possibility of paying taxes on health benefits from their employers, but gays and lesbians are already forced to do this if their employers insure their partners.

During its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether LGBT people will continue to endure these inequities.

Economic Justice: During the fall campaign, conservatives kept claiming that women cared far less about reproductive rights than they did in the economy. They refused to recognize that reproductive rights influence women’s economic status: if women cannot plan their families, they have less chance to meet their economic needs. In addition to reproductive rights, NOW addresses a wide range of women’s economic justice issues including welfare reform, livable wages, job discrimination, pay equity, housing, social security, and pension reform.

The GOP denies the fact that women are paid over 20 percent less than men for the same types of jobs. Conservatives also want to reduce Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid payments which many women desperate need because of their lower pay. Over a lifetime, women will receive almost $500,000 on average less than men during a 40-year career, which then figures into less savings and Social Security benefits. More than twice as many women seniors live in poverty than male seniors.

The poverty rate for women is almost 40 percent higher than for men; 14.5 percent of all women lived in poverty in 2010. More than 17 million women live in poverty compared to 12.6 million men. A greater number of Hispanic women, 25 percent, live in poverty, and 25.6 percent of black women are at or below the poverty level. More than 40 percent of single mothers now live in poverty. The GOP solution is marriage, but conservatives ignore problems of domestic abuse and the poverty of men who would become their husbands. 

When women banded together to fight these economic inequities, the Supreme Court struck them down. Twelve years ago, a lawsuit, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, exposed the company’s discrimination against women in pay and promotions, but SCOTUS said that women could not file a class-action suit because the group was too large to share “common claims.”

After the court reinforced the practice of discrimination, Congress introduced the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act (EEORA). The majority of GOP representatives resulting from conservative state legislators’ gerrymandering will surely keep this act from passing the House. The Senate has already failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act because the GOP filibustered it, requiring 60 votes to move forward, eight votes more than it had—a majority of the Senate.

The most recent accomplishment for women’s economy was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill that President Obama signed into law. The law overturned SCOTUS’s ruling that complaints have to filed within the first six months after receiving a pay check whether the employee knows if there is any discrimination. Fortunately, Mitt Romney was not elected president because he would never say whether he would try to overturn the Ledbetter Act.

Most of the public is aware that women are paid less than men. Not as many people know that women are charged more than men for goods and services. And there’s no federal law against this discrimination. People would never accept a difference in charges on the basis of race, but they seem to accept that one gender has to pay more than another for the same thing.

 Insurance companies charge women $1 billion more than men for the same coverage, according to a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center. The reason isn’t maternity care; almost one-third of plans without this provision have higher charges for women of at least 30 percent or more. This inequity will stop as part of Obamacare at the beginning of 2014 unless conservatives overturn this law.

Cleaners charge more for “blouses” than men’s “shirts.” Women’s deodorant costs 30 cents more than men’s. Hair cuts are more expensive for women even if they get the same service. Men’s sneakers are taxed at 8.5 percent, while women’s sneakers are taxed at 10 percent.

In 2006, the Consumer Federation of America reported that women were 32 percent more likely than men to get saddled with costly, high-interest subprime loans–even in cases in which their credit ratings and credit histories were better than the men’s. As a result, women have been forced to pay thousands more in interest.

Twenty years ago, Ayres published a landmark study proving that women consistently paid more for cars than men did. Studies since then have shown that women continue to pay more. Black women suffered the most in extra charges when purchasing cars, an average of $400 more than men.

Equal Rights Amendment: Over 90 years ago,   Alice Paul, who was sometimes imprisoned for her activism in the women’s suffrage movement, wrote the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The text was a simple sentence: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Introduced to Congress for the first time in 1923 and every year until it finally passed 40 years ago in 1972, the ERA was given only 7 years to gain ratification by three-fourths of the states. Richard Nixon endorsed the ERA after its passage in 1972, and 30 states ratified the ERA within the first year. The impetus slowed, however, and some states rescinded the ratification leaving the ERA with only 35 of 38 states required for becoming an amendment. Failing this, the ERA continues to be introduced and continues to fail every year since 1972.

Winning this equality continues to be one of NOW’s top priorities. For more NOW issues concerned with equality for all women, go to NOW’s website. And find a NOW chapter near you.

April 30, 2012

To Confused Conservatives: Why Women Aren’t Happy with You

What a view from conservatives regarding women’s rights! “Senate Democrats Plan another Trap for Mitt Romney with Female Voters,” reads the headline for Alexander Bolton’s “article” in the conservative publicationThe Hill.  What is the trap? Proposed legislation to more easily create equal pay for the genders. The Paycheck Fairness Act, blocked by Republicans two years ago, would prohibit employer discrimination in talking about other employers’ wages in both the same offices and other offices of the company. A woman could allege wage discrimination is she’s paid less than a man working for the same job for the same employer. That’s the “trap” causing Bolton to cry “foul”:  sending a bill up for a vote that mandates equal pay is trying to trap the poor Republicans.

These are the same conservatives who probably consider the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) to be a “trap” because it tries to protect all women, not just specific classes. Thirty-one male senators voted against VAWA; several of the others voted for it only because they think that the House will remove some of those “special classes” of women from protection. Calling the existing VAWA “controversial,” the men of the House were very sure to have women—specifically Sen. Kay Hutchinson (R-TX) and Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL)—front and center to introduce the “uncontroversial” bill that eliminates certain classes of women. Or maybe they were just embarrassed to admit that some women deserve to be sexually assaulted.

After the House passed a bill taking Affordable Care Act funding to pay for keeping the federal student loan interest rate the same, Rep. John Boehner is trying to persuade anyone who will listen that this has nothing to do with women. The “slush fund,” as Boehner dismisses it, pays for hundreds of thousands of screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Mr. Boehner, those are women’s parts so the loss of funding hurts women.

In giving marching orders to House Republicans for the “reconciliation” of the budget, Reps. Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Jeb Hensarling sent a memo telling their colleagues to increase the defense budget while reducing food stamps. That’s another blow against women who are trying to find food for their children. The three House Republican leaders ignore the facts that the budget was settled last summer during the debt crisis and that they voted for this budget. Because Democratic senators arguing that the Budget Control Act counts as a budget with no need for an additional spending plan for 2013, the House Republicans are considering a seldom-used reconciliation process, hoping that Democrats won’t stick to last summer’s law and won’t have their own plan.

Republicans should use a mirror to see how offensive their behavior is. On a Meet the Press panel talking about the “war on women” yesterday, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos immediately interrupted Rachel Maddow when she said that women in this country make 77 cents for each dollar that men make and then continued to interrupt everything she said. She finally called him out on his “stylistic issue,” calling it “condescending,” after he said, ” I wish you are as right about what you’re saying as you are passionate about it. I really do.” The look on his face showed that he still didn’t get it. As Jason Easley wrote, “The goal was to put Rachel Maddow in her place, and to stop the ‘hysteria’ from the ‘girls’ who don’t understand that because men say so there is no war on women and pay gap.”

After Hilary Rosen mistakenly said that Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, doesn’t work and then repeatedly apologized, saying that she meant Ann didn’t work outside the home, the Republicans thought they were home free. When Ann Romney went out on the campaign trail to make a speech, this is what she said: “I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.” When she suggested that she understood poor families, she said that she and Mitt had to sell some of their stocks to get by in college. Her husband had already suggested that young people can start businesses the same way that he did, by borrowing $20,000 from his parents—back when $20,000 was equivalent to perhaps ten times what it is now.

Republicans around the country also ignore women’s needs. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is willing to drug-test welfare applicants before they can get any benefits although this costs the state. He also took $2 million from health care providers to give to the fake “crisis pregnancy centers” that keep women from having abortions no matter what their needs. His most recent attack on women is to veto $1.5 million for Florida’s rape crisis centers because he thinks it duplicates existing services. The majority of the existing services, however, are education and prevention; the $1.5 million would have gone to working with actual victims.

Ohio has a proposal to rearrange funding for women’s clinics, putting Planned Parenthood last. Local health departments get the top funding priority, followed by federally qualified community health centers, and then private care centers. The end result of the reprioritization leaves thousands of Ohio women with no birth control, cancer screenings, or STI testing and treatment. Although women could go to a private care center, not everyone who works at this private care center will provide birth control. “You would have to be an established patient, and it would depend on the doctor,” said the receptionist at Lower Lights Health Care center. Ohio plans to move funds meant to help cover contraception to groups that decide on a case by case basis whether or not they want to provide contraception.

Even candidates don’t take women seriously. Recently a woman asked State Attorney General Rob McKenna, Republican candidate for Washington governor, how he would vote on the Reproductive Parity Act, a bill that would expand insurance coverage for abortions in the state insurance plan as long as the plan covers maternity care as well. At first McKenna accused her of trying to “bushwhack” him by asking the question and asked her if she were being honest. When she tried to address the question, he snapped at her and said, “Why don’t you go get a job?” The woman runs “youth empowerment” programs at the YMCA.  Again a Republican man tried to shut up a woman by  being contemptuous to her.

In his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, President Obama described the Republican position: “Jimmy [Kimmel] got his start years ago on ‘The Man Show.’ In Washington, that’s what we call a congressional hearing on contraception.” No war on women? Thing.progress has produced a video collage of comments during the past few months. For another piece of black humor, check out this video from the Funny or Die website as women counsel Rick Santorum for aborting his campaign.

And these are just the most recent Republicans actions against women!

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