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Posts Tagged ‘pay equity’

face_of_pay_equity_150x225My first job in Washington, D.C., was at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC). The first piece of legislation I worked on as a RAC legislative assistant in 2010 was the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would make much-needed improvements to the Equal Pay Act, which was originally passed in 1963 to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. As we enter the 50th anniversary year of this landmark legislation, it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come — and how far we still have to go.

Back in fall 2010, the Fair Pay Coalition, led by AAUW, was gearing up for a Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill had passed the House in January 2009 with a bipartisan majority, and President Obama had pledged to sign it if it came to his desk. At the RAC, I worked with the National Council of Jewish Women to mobilize the faith community in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act. We tripled the number of faith organizations that signed an interfaith letter to the Senate and brought these organizations into the Fair Pay Coalition (some of the groups continue to be active in the broader coalition today).

Unfortunately, a procedural motion to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act fell two votes short of the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. It was my first big legislative fight — and my first defeat. Yet as I looked around the AAUW boardroom during the coalition debrief a few weeks after the vote, I saw colleagues who had been fighting this fight for years, some for their entire careers. I realized that this issue extended far beyond the two months I had worked on it. The truth is, it goes back to 50 years ago, when the Equal Pay Act was first passed.

Today I am proud to work at AAUW, particularly now that we have entered the 50th anniversary year of the Equal Pay Act. AAUW continues to lead the fight for pay equity because even though we have made considerable progress in narrowing the wage gap in the last 50 years, we still have a ways to go. For the last decade, women working full time have typically earned 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned. An 18-cent pay gap exists even when comparing the salaries of male and female graduates one year out of college. Wage discrimination affects the economic security of families today and affects women’s retirement security down the road. Moreover, pay equity is not only a women’s issue; it is a family issue, as women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their households.

The 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is a somewhat bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, we have much to celebrate about this landmark law, which predates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the law typically thought of as the most significant piece of civil rights legislation. On the other hand, even the best laws need to be updated over time, and 50 years is too long without an update to the Equal Pay Act.

I look forward to building on this important work that I began at the RAC and continue to pursue at AAUW. The official 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is June 10, 2013, but let’s begin talking about pay equity now and keep it up for the rest of the year. Someday soon I hope to sit at the AAUW boardroom table again and see my colleagues with smiles on their faces because of a pay equity victory — and I better not have to wait another 50 years for that to happen.

AAUW will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act at our 2013 National Convention in New Orleans. On the afternoon of June 10, join us for an anniversary panel featuring Lilly Ledbetter and AAUW’s own Lisa Maatz. Register today so you don’t miss out!

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face_of_pay_equity_150x225The new year may be right around the corner, but it will take an extra four months for women’s earnings to catch up to men’s earnings from the year before. The symbolic day when women’s earnings finally make up the 23 percent difference is known as Equal Pay Day. As usual, AAUW will host special events and distribute resources to help celebrate the work that has been done and that still needs to be done to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.

It is never too early to start preparing for Equal Pay Day — April 9, 2013. This year will be especially important, as 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

What will your state or branch do to observe Equal Pay Day? AAUW has updated our Pay Equity Resource Kit with suggested ideas for action, facts and figures about pay equity, the latest AAUW research, and step-by-step instructions for planning activities. Here is just a sampling of what the resource kit can help you accomplish:

  • Organize reading and discussion sessions. Lilly Ledbetter’s book, Grace and Grit, would make a great selection!
  • Issue a press release for Equal Pay Day. A sample press release is included in the resource kit.
  • Hold in-district meetings with your members of Congress. The resource kit walks you through the process of requesting a meeting, preparing for that meeting, and following up with members of Congress and their staff afterward.
  • Complete a workplace pay audit for your office, and encourage branch and state members to do the same.
  • Organize a petition to show that there is a high level of popular support for pay equity legislation.
  • Conduct a public information campaign. You can raise awareness about the need for legislation to end discrimination against women in the labor market.
  • Ask your members of Congress and state legislators to sign a fair pay pledge. The resource kit includes sample pledges.

Download the complete AAUW Pay Equity Resource Kit today to get started! You can also request pay equity stickers and other materials by e-mailing advocacy@aauw.org.

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The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

AAUW is braced to talk about some scary stuff during Halloween week, and we dare you to join us. From 1 to 2 p.m. EDT October 29–31, the Fair Pay Coalition, which is chaired by AAUW, will host a Twitter campaign to raise awareness about the need to close the gender wage gap. We’ll use the hashtag #RU4FairPay to ask candidates and members of Congress about their support for legislation to address the wage gap and to make fair pay a trending topic on Twitter.

This Twitter campaign is timed to hit candidates and voters in the final days before the election —because the statistics in our recent research report have us a little spooked. AAUW’s Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation found that just one year out of college, women are paid 82 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to their male peers. Among all full-time workers, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men — a figure that hasn’t budged in 10 years. The persistent pay gap suggests that educational achievement alone will not fix the problem.

This Twitter effort is part of AAUW’s nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaign, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard. The nationwide effort has informed women about the critical issues at stake in the 2012 election, including the gender wage gap.

Participation in the #RU4FairPay campaign is easy, even if you aren’t on Twitter. Here’s what you do:

  1. Post this blog to Facebook!
  2. Get in the holiday spirit by sending an equal pay e-card. Download and share via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.
  3. Use this tweet to target current senators, representatives, and candidates in some marquee races between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. EDT each day Monday, October 29, through Wednesday, October 31:

Dear [insert Twitter handle(s)]: We’re trick-or-treating 4 #fairpay this Halloween. #RU4fairpay? http://bit.ly/RuKBjn

You’ll find us tweeting at @AAUWPolicy and @AAUWActionFund. Finally, here is a list of Twitter handles for members of Congress and candidates. This Halloween, don’t say boo. Say #RU4FairPay?

ALASKA
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@LisaMurkowski)

ARIZONA
Richard Carmona (@CarmonaforAZ) and Rep. Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake)

CONNECTICUT
Linda McMahon (@Linda_McMahon) and Rep. Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT)

DELAWARE
Sen. Tom Carper (@SenatorCarper) and Keith Spanarelli (@KeithSpanarelli)

FLORIDA
Sen. Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) and Rep. Connie Mack (@RepConnieMack)

HAWAII
Rep. Mazie Hirono (@MazieHirono) and Gov. Linda Lingle (@Lingle2012)

ILLINOIS
Sen. Mark Kirk (@SenatorKirk)

MAINE
Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins)

MASSACHUSETTS
Sen. Scott Brown (@USSenScottBrown) and Elizabeth Warren (@ElizabethforMA)

MICHIGAN
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (@PeteHoekstra) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@Stabenow)

MISSOURI
Rep. Todd Akin (@ToddAkin) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (@ClaireMC)

MONTANA
Rep. Denny Rehberg (@DennyRehberg) and Sen. Jon Tester (@JonTester)

NEBRASKA
Gov. Bob Kerrey (@KerreyBob) and state Rep. Deb Fischer (@DebFischer2012)

NEVADA
Rep. Shelly Berkley (@RepBerkley) and Sen. Dean Heller (@SenDeanHeller)

NEW MEXICO
Rep. Martin Heinrich (@Heinrich4NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (@Heather4Senate)

NEW YORK
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) and Wendy Long (@WendyLongforNY)

NORTH DAKOTA
Heidi Heitkamp (@Heidi4ND) and Rep. Rick Berg (@RepRickBerg)

OHIO
Sen. Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) and Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio)

VIRGINIA
Sen. George Allen (@GeorgeAllenVA), Gov. Tim Kaine (@TimKaine), and Sen. Mark Warner (@MarkWarner)

WISCONSIN
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (@TammyBaldwinWI) and Gov. Tommy Thompson (@TommyforWI)

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

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On October 9, I had the honor of hearing Lilly Ledbetter speak on my campus, St. Cloud State University. Ledbetter’s story is an inspiring one. After 19 years of working at Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Alabama as a production manager, a note was slipped into her mailbox revealing a startling pay gap between her and three male colleagues in the same position. Despite knowing that taking the corporation to court would be a long, uphill battle that would likely not lead to the compensation she was owed, she sued Goodyear. “It wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “It was about my daughter, my granddaughter, and the women and families in this nation.” Her case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2007, after nine years of fighting, she received the final verdict. She lost because of an unreasonably short statute of limitations that would have required her to file suit years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly.

But her story did not end there. Ledbetter became the namesake for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009. The bill righted the wrong of the Supreme Court decision by allowing the statute of limitations to reset with every discriminatory paycheck.

As I sat in the audience listening to this strong woman share her story, two things happened to me. First, I was humbled by how much women in the past have achieved to guarantee me certain rights. Second, I was inspired to do the same for future generations of women. I think that my generation often does not take the time to learn about the influential women in our country’s history. I feel that young women believe the struggles of the past are over, when in fact they are far from complete. Even today, women’s median earnings are still only 77 percent of men’s, which accounts for huge losses in income, retirement savings, and Social Security benefits over a lifetime of work. But Ledbetter’s speech appeared to raise students’ awareness. Through the question-and-answer session following the speech, you could hear people expressing their outrage at what happened to her and their demand to change what is still occurring today.

St. Cloud State University has been making great strides to bring inspiring programming to young women. At the SCSU Women’s Center, where I work, we strive to empower women, increase awareness, and develop programming to support those principles on our campus. Our mission statement speaks to these ideals: “With passion and purpose to end sexist oppression, the Women’s Center promotes a safe, inclusive, and engaged community through advocacy, education, alliance-building, and women’s leadership.”

My hope is that by bringing speakers like Ledbetter to campus, our generation will have a greater appreciation for past struggles and those who fought them. I also hope that when someone from my generation is faced with a situation where she has to decide whether to stand up for herself, she will think like Ledbetter: “I knew that the only choice I had was to stand up for myself and do what was right. I understood the risk I was taking. It would surely be the hardest fight of my life, and there were no guarantees I’d win. … But as I ruminated, I realized I had no other choice.”

This post was written by Bre Moulder, a St. Cloud State University sophomore majoring in political science and women’s studies. St. Cloud State University is an AAUW college/university partner member.

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On October 24, AAUW will release a new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. The following is the fourth installment of Gap and Gown, a new blog series inspired by the forthcoming research.

Now that fair pay is in the headlines again thanks to this week’s presidential debate, we decided to dig up footage from an April 11, 2011, panel discussion called New Voices for Pay Equity. AAUW invited industry leaders to come to Washington, D.C., to discuss the problem. One of the first questions posed after the presentation was, How do we get men to care?

Hear the responses from John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, and San Diego State University Professor Bey-Ling Sha, who injected a bit of humor into the discussion.

Then be sure to download AAUW’s newest research on the topic next week. The new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, is an update of sorts to the 2007 AAUW report Behind the Pay Gap, which found that just one year after college graduation, women are paid only 80 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. The new report will offer concrete steps on how to address this persistent problem, talk about its impact on women with college loans, and reveal the latest salary data for this population.

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Lilly Ledbetter delivers Keynote at NCCWSL 2012Feminism has always been criticized as being preoccupied with advancing the interests of white, educated, middle-class women. While most women’s groups now take action on everything from racism to marriage equality to social security, the rhetoric of equal pay has at least the potential to emphasize the paychecks of the mostly white women at the top — even though a pay gap clearly exists between men and women in nearly every line of work and at every educational level.

So it’s a good thing that the equal-pay movement has been reignited by a woman who can inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Lilly Ledbetter worked her way up the ladder at Goodyear Tire and Rubber and risked everything to file a pay discrimination lawsuit after an anonymous note tipped her off that she was being paid 40 percent less than her male peers were. She was doing the same job and had earned a top performance award at the company.

Last week, Ledbetter shared her frustrating story with the nearly 600 students at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and her message helped inspire these up-and-coming workers to fight for pay equity as they begin their careers.

The audience was moved by Ledbetter’s clear-cut case and the heart-wrenchingly unjust Supreme Court decision that followed it — which said she should have filed her pay discrimination suit 18 years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly. A jury trial had previously awarded her damages and back pay, but Ledbetter never received a dime.

In her keynote address, Ledbetter told the audience that she grew up in one of the poorest counties in Alabama. Even though she was a manager at Goodyear, she and her husband struggled to pay the bills; the wages she lost to discrimination would have made a huge difference in their lives. Now, in her work as an equal-pay advocate, Ledbetter speaks passionately about the drastic effects the pay gap has on families like hers. Often, she says, it determines “whether they can buy food, pay the mortgage, and keep healthy.”

Ledbetter is one of many women who have stood up against industry giants to fight lengthy, expensive legal battles for equity in their hourly wages. Her words inspired the college women in the audience to fight for their own and all working women’s pay equity.

In the question-and-answer session afterward, conference-goers said they were touched by Ledbetter’s story, and one even called her a “rock star.” When they asked what they could do to help others and themselves, Ledbetter had a simple answer: Stand up for yourself, stay informed, and vote.

She urged the students to learn how to negotiate their salaries, because “if you don’t start now, you’ll never catch up.” But she also stressed the need to stay informed about local and national wage laws and the voting records of politicians — especially on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

“If the Paycheck Fairness Act had been law back then, I would have known how much less I was getting paid,” Ledbetter said.

Often called the “face of pay equity,” Ledbetter does more than show the human impact of the pay gap’s national statistics — that women make, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar men earn (the average is even lower for black women and Latinas). Her story and others like it refute the myth that the only thing separating men’s and women’s wages is hard work. These stories also show how working women — young and old, with and without diplomas, of any ethnic background — can unite to fight for the pay equity we all deserve.

That unity is further embodied in Ledbetter’s continued advocacy, even though she can no longer benefit from the laws she’s advocating for. “I made a decision in 1998 to stand up for myself. … My journey since then has been for you. Since that ruling came down, my case was over. If I can say something today that will change you in the audience, my goal will have been met.”

After her speech, Ledbetter left with hundreds of new fans who, thanks to her trailblazing, are that much closer to having what the president described when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009 — that is, to having no limits to their dreams.

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The war on women is everywhere these days. We’ve seen a parade of Mad Men-era ideas that have shocked women down to our toes, and the pay-gap issue has not escaped such ridiculousness. Yesterday, the Senate voted along party lines to block the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have taken real steps to get employers to follow the law and deter pay discrimination before it even starts. But the senators who opposed the bill didn’t stop the fight for equal pay — all they did was create a lot of mad women!

Lilly Ledbetter and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz meet with senior White House staff.

I had the privilege of lobbying yesterday alongside fair-pay icon Lilly Ledbetter, who flew up from her home in Alabama to campaign for the bill. She and I spent the whole day talking with White House staff, members of Congress, and the press about the importance of fair pay to women and our economy. Over and over, we told legislators that the pay gap is real and has real consequences. A woman is far more likely than a man to spend her golden years in poverty, in part because the pay gap starts as soon as she throws her graduation cap in the air. AAUW’s research has shown that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues earn — even when they have the same major and work in the same field. Our research found that the gender pay gap shows up in 107 out of 111 occupations regardless of education level — and women get the short end of the stick.

From left: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and Lilly Ledbetter speak at a Senate press conference

The Paycheck Fairness Act could address this, and that’s what’s so frustrating about yesterday’s vote. Not only do women deserve equal pay for equal work, they need equal pay to support themselves and their families. When women are paid unequally, everyone suffers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to fight until every woman is treated equally and until she is paid according to her worth rather than outdated stereotypes.

It’s time for our paychecks and our national policies to catch up to the 21st century and to leave the nostalgia to television. Unequal pay has no place in today’s world.

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