Gotta love an election year. First, 14 GOP women come out with an Op Ed for Politico, “The GOP is the Real Party of the American Woman,” and then a few days later twenty-four GOP women announce the formation of the GOP’s Women’s Policy Committee complete with a get-to-know-us-we’re- just-like-you-video meant to put that pesky rumor about the Republican War Against Women to rest. Kind of curious as to how the twenty-four are going to respond to the five women democratic senators, Barbara Milkuski, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Diane Feinstein, and Debbie Stabenaw, calling for a renewed push to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Well played Democrats, love the timing and I hope this proves once and for all that the newly vagina friendly Republican Party is a big fat lie.
If GOP women were really for women as they claim to be, and if there was one thing women en masse could agree upon, it would be equal pay for equal work, something that profoundly affects the quality of our lives, the lives of our families, and the lives of our children. But the truth is, 15 of the twenty-four women of the GOP Women’s Policy Committee were in the house when the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act came up for passage and all fifteen voted against it. I want to be very clear here about what these women voted against and the future harm to other women this vote would carry. Let’s say you worked for someone for 19 years and then you found out that the men doing your same job were being paid considerably more money for the same work. It took you awhile to find out exactly how much more they were being paid because the company you worked for prohibited employees from discussing or sharing wages. When you do find out, the disparity is so great you sue using your last paycheck as evidence of wage discrimination, and you sue under title Vll of the Civil Rights Acts, which allows 180 days for someone to sue over race or gender discrimination. So there you are with your clear-cut evidence of wage discrimination, the judge hears your case, talks amongst his judge friends, and comes back with, “the wage discrimination started nineteen years ago therefore the statute of limitations of 180 days has long since passed.” Snap. That is exactly what happened to Lilly Ledbetter. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act allows women to sue from their last paycheck and that is what 15 of the 24 GOP Women’s Policy Committee voted against, a fair chance, a level playing field, for a woman to sue her employer for wage discrimination. Clearly business, not human beings, benefits the most from this kind of vote, which brings me to the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The passage of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a misnomer because it does virtually nothing to address the pay gap between men and women. That’s what the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was supposed to do but given the fact that women still only make 77 cents to a man’s dollar it’s clearly not working. Enter the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that proposes to stop wage discrimination by broadening protections and closing the loopholes in the Equal Pay Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act is not new; George W. Bush threatened to veto the bill after the House passed it but it never came to that because Senate Republicans unanimously voted the bill down. That pretty much tells you that the bill truly has the ability to change the way business does business, and it does, because if the bill passes employers will no longer be allowed to penalize or fire employees for discussing their salaries. It’s close to impossible to engage in the practice of wage discrimination when people know what each other are earning. If Ms. Ledbetter had not been prohibited from discussing wages with her fellow employees, she might not have lost 19 years to pay discrimination.
Of course this is going to be a hugely bi-partisan issue; the best interests of women versus the best interests of business, and Democrats will rightfully frame this as yet another example of the Republican War Against Women. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is currently scrambling to prevent the vote from being filibustered on the floor of the Senate. I would bet The GOP Women’s Policy Committee will claim that the bill is not a job maker, they will claim that the bill ultimately hurts women, they will claim that Ledbetter is already on the books so there’s no need for it. If there’s enough hoopla over the bill to the point that a filibuster would genuinely hurt Republicans even more in the eyes of women, keeping in mind the Republicans are actively seeking the women’s vote, there’s a good bet the committee will try to revise and rewrite the bill in much the same way that Sandy Adams and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, both members, revised and rewrote the Violence Against Women Act, which 22 members out of the 24 voted for. I am sure of this because the Vice Chairs of the GOP Women’s Policy Committee, Marsha Blackburn and Ann Marie Buerkle, are both ALEC members and four members of the seven-member steering committee are ALEC members, and ¾s of the rest of the twenty-four are ALEC members and each of the twenty-four’s voting records reads like a template for ALEC legislation; rabidly anti-choice, environmentally eviscerating, and vehemently, staunchly, behind the 1%. ALEC is the god of economic disparity and the GOP Women’s Committee worships at ALEC’s altar.
The vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act comes up the first week of June. Call your Senator, 888-876-9527, and tell him/her to vote YES for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Live loud, love fierce, and suffer no fools. Kat Manaan (MAWT)
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