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Equal-pay bill fails in U.S. Senate
Legislation needed 60 votes to go to debate
Published Wednesday, June 6, 2012 1:23 pm
by Ebony Shamberger

With a 52-47 vote, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act on Tuesday. The bill needed 60 votes to avoid a filibuster and go to debate.

If passed, the bill would have amended the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to provide greater protections for women from wage discrimination.

On Monday, the Obama for America campaign held a conference call in support of the bill with women’s equality activist Lilly Ledbetter and North Carolina representatives Verla Insko and Deborah Ross. The call was in response to Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s failure to say whether he supports pay equity laws. It was also influenced by President Barack Obama’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, in 2008, for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Pay Act this week.

Ledbetter was the plaintiff in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (1998). She sued Goodyear for allegedly paying her less than her male coworkers for nearly two decades. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against her.

“Wage discrimination is very deeply rooted in our cultural history,” said Ledbetter, “and our compensation system still reflects this bias. The Fair Pay Act will go a long way toward addressing that. This really isn’t just about women, it’s about families and economic security.”

In North Carolina, women are paid 81 cents for every dollar men earn, which results in a $7,950 annual pay gap for full-time workers. Nationally, women make 77 cents for every dollar men earn.

Women head 500,000 households in the state.

Ross said this bill would not only stop discrimination before it starts, it would also make wage discrimination harder to hide. She also said this bill could help turn around the low social security savings for women.

“To this day, (Romney) refuses to say whether he would have made it a law … for women to be compensated the same for the same work.

“Is he going to stand up to his fellow Republicans?”

On the day of the conference call, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D- N.C.), a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, urged passage of bill by joining women advocates and small business owners at Dress for Success-Charlotte.

Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield attended the event and said she hopes Congress members to vote on bill were listening.

“I would hope to believe that our current legislators will remember that we voted for them,” she said.

Though, she’s never been discriminated against in regards to pay, Mayfield said she is aware of the maneuvers businesses use to avoid employee hostility.

“I have not personally experienced it,” said Mayfield, “but I have been with organizations where there was a rule to not discuss your pay because if you discuss it with your superiors you could face retaliation.”





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