Sunday, April 27, 2008

Who Needs Equal Pay Anyhow?

Hello my few, but faithful, readers!

I have been crazy busy producing copy for my journalism 210 class the past week or so. I just finished an opinion piece about the Senate's inability to pass the Fair Pay Act last week. Boy, did that piss me off! I know this might come across as a little lazy, but rather than write another piece here that basically says the same thing, I thought I'd share what I wrote for class.

I'm also working on a package about the Take Back the Night Rally that was held on campus Thurs. night. More about that to come...

Senate Republicans Side With Special Interests - Block Equal Pay Bill

Equal pay for equal work should be a no-brainer in this day and age. None of us should have to launch an investigation to find out if we’re getting shorted on our paychecks because of gender, race, religion or any other discriminatory factor. Unfortunately for us working stiffs, Senate Republicans do not agree.

The Senate failed to pass the Fair Pay Restoration Act last Wed. by the four votes needed to avoid a filibuster. The bill is a response to the Supreme Court decision in 2007 in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear that prevented an employee from suing their employer for pay discrimination after 180 days of receiving their first pay check. In the case of Lily Ledbetter, she worked in the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. factory in Gadsden, Ala. as a supervisor in the Tire Assembly Department for years before she discovered that her male counterparts were making 15 to 40 percent more than she was.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, written by Bush appointee Judge Samuel Alito, failed to take into consideration the fact that most people do not have access to their employer’s payroll information and can’t find out exactly what their counterparts are making in the company, at least not within the first six months at a new job. They did seem to consider that large corporations don’t like lots of lawsuits from angry employees whose pensions and Social Security benefits are significantly lower thanks to the pay discrimination they suffered while employed.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Fair Pay Restoration Act last June as a way of setting right what the Supreme Court screwed up. But alas, senators such as Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), seem to think that big business interests are more important than making sure vulnerable people have recourse when their employers screw them over. All a company has to do is keep their employees in the dark for 180 days and they are free and clear. The court has put the burden on the individual employee to find out what a corporation is doing with their payroll. Sounds fair to me.

Republican presidential nominee, John McCain didn’t bother to show up for the vote, but said that he would also have voted to oppose the bill according to the Associated Press. This while campaigning through poverty stricken states and concluding in New Orleans, an area where fair pay for working-class families is a daily concern with very tangible results.

Both Democratic candidates for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama were able to make it back to the Senate floor to vote in support of the bill.

The Senate’s failure to pass the Fair Pay Act is yet another testament to the power of special interests in our governmental system. While the people cast their votes every two years and hope for the best, those voted into power turn their backs yet again on the folks who put them there.

At least the high-paid executives at Goodyear (and every other business in America) can rest easy knowing they can continue to grossly underpay anyone they want.

(P.S. I found Jen Sorensen's great comic Here)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What if I don't want to Shine?

I know I'm a little late on this one, but it's been bugging me for a while now, so I'm going to have to share.

Yahoo has developed a new website for women called Shine. Isn't that sweet and pseudo-inspiring? Maybe it’s all the pink assaulting me on the first page (why, why, why!?) but I was'nt all that hopeful about a website for women created by corporate geniuses and their advertisers.

A quick tour through the new site reveals the usual Food, Fashion and Family focus of women's publications both on and off the Internet. Our areas of interest include: Love + Sex, Work + Money, Fashion + Beauty, Healthy Living, Entertainment and (my favorite) Astrology.

No mention of politics even though we're in the middle of one of the most interesting and historically important elections in years. Uhmm, first viable female candidate? Hello? First African American candidate? Anyone, anyone...Buehler?

There is an area called Speak Up that looked promising, but it turns out to be a forum where we ladies can weigh in on such heady matters as "Do you diet with your best friend?" and "If Boob-Job-in-a-Bottle worked, would you try it?. A few of the questions were in reference to the recent Elliot Spitzer scandal - "Would you stand by your man if he were busted with a prostitute?" and "Would you bust your porn-watching coworker?" Obviously, questions that keep women up at night.

Ok, so the most interactive part of the website is a little light. Fine. Things look more promising over in Work+ Money. There are blog articles about the recent mortgage crisis and a piece giving advice on how to approach the topic of past mistakes in an interview. There are also the typical articles about managing expenses at home and planning for high prices on vacation in Europe.

Shine doesn't feel like an Internet space that really has my interests at heart. I can waste time money and valuable self-esteem looking at Glamour or Oprah magazine. Why on Earth would I want to go to a web site that seems to be the lowest common denominator of typical "women's" magazines? The content seems just as dictated by advertiser dollars as any fashion mag. Ads for weight loss supplements and make-up appear around every corner. I would not be surprised to find out some of the content is agreed upon between Yahoo and the advertisers who literally pop up on this site.

Besides the obvious insults to my intelligence and assumptions about what I (as a woman) find important in life, I'm offended at the idea that we even need a site like this. What, the Yahoo home page I've been going to is actually for men? Since the default gender in our society is male (white, heterosexual, middle-class male actually), am I to assume that the default home page at Yahoo is intended mostly for men? It must be, since they went to all the time and trouble to create a special pink website just for us little ole' women folk.