With a stroke of his pen on Thursday, ultra-conservative Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker quietly eliminated the state’s equal pay law that allows women and others who feel discriminated against to file charges in state and local courts.
Supported by big business in Wisconsin, SB 202 effectively repeals the Equal Pay Enforcement Act of 2009, which gave women time to file discrimination lawsuits against their workplace when they discover they’ve been paid unfairly for their work. The Act was a response inspired by Lilly Ledbetter, a woman who had been discriminated against by her workplace for years without knowing it and when she finally took the case to federal court, she won. But her case was thrown out by the conservative Supreme Court, which ruled that she filed the suit too late and should have filed it as soon as the discrimination began, even though she didn’t even know about it for years.
The Republican controlled Senate and House both voted to repeal the law. The Senate voted to repeal it in November of 2011, while the House voted for repeal in February of this year. Because of this, women in Wisconsin can be discriminated against without their knowledge and be paid less by their employers. Employers can do this and get away with it as long as women don’t have knowledge of it for a certain amount of time, which is wrong. That’s why Wisconsin passed the Equal Pay Act in the first place.
But Republicans are hell bent on continuing their war against women. Wisconsin Republicans are just choosing to attack the financial power of women as well as women’s reproductive rights. Women are paid 75 cents for every dollar men get paid. It’s completely unfair, and hinders the ability of women to care properly for their families, especially if they are raising children by themselves. If women can’t afford to put food on the table for their kids, they go hungry. Women also have a tougher time paying for their health care, including contraception and cancer screenings. Which means an illness could take away a child’s mother and perhaps only caregiver. Being paid less also makes women less powerful consumers which also hurts the economy because women have less purchasing power due to not being paid as much as their male colleagues for doing the same work.
Rather than working to prevent women from being discriminated against, Wisconsin Republicans decided to legalize discrimination against women in the workplace. Republicans want to make sure that women are subservient to men and that means men must always be paid more than women. Imagine how strong the economy would be if women had the exact same purchasing power that men have. Now keep in mind that Republicans are the ones weakening women’s health and the economy at the same time. By repealing the Equal Pay law, the party of ‘family values’ just significantly harmed families.