In order to prohibit gender-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same firm or establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility, The Equal Pay Act was passed, and signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963. Fifty years later, there are some who claim on a national average, women still make in a range from about seventy-seven cents to eighty-one cents (depending on who’s stats you’re seeing) for each dollar earned by men doing the same jobs.
Evidently there has been enough concern about this that The Paycheck Fairness Act was proposed. It passed through the House in 2008 and 2009, but has been blocked by the Senate. One of the principle intents of this new bill was to protect employees from retaliation for sharing salary information with their co-workers. In other words, whenever a woman found out that one of her male co-workers doing the same job she was doing, but for a higher salary, and confronted management about it, both she and whoever provided her with that information could be (and have been) fired.
Some legislators saw this practice of keeping the pay discrepancies secret as an inequity, and saw it as an open practice to avoid compliance with federal law. Other measures were to stiffen certain penalties for non-compliance, and to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act by providing solutions for women who are not being paid equal wages for their work.
Here’s a true story:
In the 1990’s a woman who worked for a large American corporation was being promoted to a position previously held by a man. The title of the position was market analyst. She accepted it. In addition to her new job, she was for a time expected to carry on with some of her previous clerical and administrative duties. Eventually, an administrative assistant was hired to take over some of that. All the time, she thought the company would appreciate her being a team player for “going above and beyond”, which is the way her boss described her to others. Well, they didn’t.
She soon found out that although she was given the job she was not promoted to the same pay grade it formerly held. She did the work, but never was placed at the pay grade enjoyed by the company’s other market analysts. She knew if she complained formally about the obvious pay and work load discrepancies, they would find a way to terminate her. By policy, they could not openly discuss their compensation with each other.
Sometime later, she was informed that the position of market analyst was being eliminated. But that turned out to be not true, except for her region. All the other market analysts kept their pay, but she was reduced to an hourly position. Still, she was to perform the work of a market analyst, but never even close to the same pay a man received for the identical work.
In the same company, a man with administrative duties was reassigned to field logistics operations. When asking who would do his old job, he was told:
“Oh, we’ll hire a woman. We can get a girl to do this for a fraction of what we were paying you. Besides, girls are good at clerical duties, and are usually better at muti-tasking than men, anyway.”
They openly invited other employees who might know of a “woman” that needed an office job to feel free to refer them. The interviews were conducted. Only women were interviewed although it is a fact that some men had submitted resumes. A woman was hired at a significantly lower pay grade than her predecessor. And of course, she was instructed, in fact warned to not divulge her compensation to anyone else in the company.
Oh, there are lots of stories, and you probably know some yourself. Today, there are still real people out there who know The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is widely skirted, and even joked about by people who shouldn’t. But the bill to fix the problem did not pass.
Kelly Ayotte, Senator from New Hampshire, said:
“The reason that I voted against that specific bill (equal pay for women) 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.”
What? What layer? Passing a bill that calls for enforcing and providing the teeth to do it, so that a woman should be paid the same as a man if she is hired to do the same work is not “…going to help us better get at the equal pay issue”?!? It won’t? Hmmmm. Is she crazy? Is it her attempt to prove women say and do things on an intellectual level below her male counterparts so we can continue to discriminate against them?
Or, is it that she’s brilliant since she takes the same position as her male compadres who stand so firmly against women’s rights to be protected under the law equally with men? If she is not crazy or openly prejudiced against women for some reason, why do you think she said such a thing? In fact, why did every single one of the senators from the republican party vote against equal pay for women? Did somebody tell them to? I didn’t. Did you tell them to take that bigoted stand?
So, just exactly why do you think a bill calling for equal pay for women in the workplace failed to pass? Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the bill opened the door to more lawsuits against employers. So is that it? It’s inconvenient to businesses that want to discriminate against women just because they are not male, and might get sued by these same said women over it? Really? Is that also your opinion?
Mitch is very proud of his firm and uncompromising stand on this issue. A person may be steadfast and uncompromising, often at the risk of being called pig-headed by their opposition (an obvious slander to pigs). People often flatter themselves unduly when making such a claim of holding staunchly for what they see to be high and mighty principles. For you see, no matter how much they insist they’re right, or even believe they’re right, doesn’t mean they are.
Former GOP candidate for president, Mitt Romney, claimed to support pay equity for women according to his spokesperson, Amanda Henneberg. Sarah Palin said she was for equal rights for women, but ironically, even as early as September, 2008, she went on record opposing legislation for equal pay for women because lawyers might make money suing companies that don’t comply. At that time, it was also McCain’s position.
I cannot find where either she or McCain has ever made any public statement or vote to reverse that. Why? I mean really, why?!? Is it about the money? Who’s money? Is it about not wanting to offend those with the big bucks who make campaign contributions? Political practices of recent years might warrant at least some suspicion of it. Or is it some kind of belief that women actually deserve less pay (nationally, from about 19 to 23% less than what is earned by men for the same job)?
Think about this: even if your prejudice is that women make inferior decisions than men, or do less or inferior work, why in the world would you assign them to tasks equal to what is expected from a man? If it were true that females are inferior, and a man made the decision to assign a woman to a job with equal expectations as he would have for a man in that position, wouldn’t that be evidence that he, the man, was making an inferior, if not outright stupid decision? In other words, if the task can be done equally well regardless of the worker’s sexual plumbing, what is the justification for a rationale that the man should be entitled under the law to be paid a higher rate? And furthermore, it’s already against the intent of federal law (again, an opinion normally entitled to judges, but since I’m being judgmental here, I make no apology for it).
I’m sure you’ve heard some say it is a matter of religious instruction, and that in almost all the ancient mythologies and civilized cultures since the beginning of recorded history as well as The Torah, The Quran, The Holy Bible, and The Book of Mormon, women generally held station slightly higher than cattle, and in some cases, lower. Is that what you believe? I believe, and therefore you certainly have the right to question it, one of the saddest delusions man has ever conceived of is that oppression of other people is authorized and approved of by the Deity. And by no means do I limit my feeling about oppression to just sexual discrimination.
Please make a note that in the United States Senate, men and women get equal pay for equal positions. Does that mean the job of a Senator is not as important as most other jobs? Well, they certainly draw an above average income for such unimportant work that doesn’t pay a man at a higher rate than a woman. Doesn’t that seem to beg the question just a little bit?
Obviously, the issue has no bipartisan support. It’s split right down the isle, and the treatment of it has not been rational; it has been emotional. There seems to have been a shortage of honest dialogue wanting to find a fair solution to the problem, but all we see is the rhetoric. And the outcome has not been flattering to that rhetorical legislative body. In fact, it makes them look as though their minds are stuck in the Dark Ages, and for many of them, that might be true. So, let’s take the argument out of the idiotic divisiveness between democrats and republicans if you can do that (and most of you will not be able to do it for even a minute), and simply answer this:
If the decision was entirely up to you, what do you think would be the right thing to do?
And why do you think your decision would be the right thing to do? Oh, you don’t have to tell me, but maybe you should tell your senators. And while you’re talking to ’em, tell ’em this is not a basketball game, it’s about human rights and the livelihoods of families just in case any of them still might give a damn about any of that.
Another thing to consider is, if Senator Kelly Ayotte is correct that we already have enough laws and don’t need to pass any more bills, wouldn’t it make sense for all honest members of the senate and congress to resign and go home? Well, not Kelly. She’s a woman. After all, might she therefore have to take a cut in pay?