Senate Republicans Side With Special Interests - Block Equal Pay Bill
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...
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)