Monday, December 29, 2008

New York feminists pushing for equal pay  

With our new administration, equal pay advocates are seeing opportunity to pass a new bill, after the tragic death of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. From Women's ENews:

Now, on the heels of the U.S. presidential election of Barack Obama and a Democratic majority in the Senate of 58 seats, activists in New York who have attracted Ledbetter to their cause say they are hoping for the best from the next Congress.

"It's sort of like, what do we want for Christmas?" said Beverly Neufeld, vice president of the New York Women's Agenda, a New York City coalition of professional women. "We want some new fair pay legislation. That would be a gift."

The New York State Pay Equity Coalition is planning to push another equal pay bill in New York. This bill is especially important because it is much more thorough. For example, it would include pay equity for employees who have comparable job titles, not just identical positions. Also, it would outlaw firing or reprimanding employees for disclosing their salary to coworkers, since the discouragement of wage comparison is fuel that keeps an unequal workplace running.

When I was 16, I had my first job. Around the first month or so, my boss scolded me because she found out that I let slip my salary to a coworker. She was especially upset because it was through talking about our salaries that another employee and I realized we were being paid significantly different salaries. We were both women and were around the same age, yet I was being paid $2.50 more than her. She also had come to the job with more experience and had been working there for several months more than me. The only factor I can attribute our unequal salaries to is that she was African-American, and I'm not. She quit. She never got a straight answer from our boss as to why she was being paid less than me.

Laws like the one that the New York State Pay Equity Coalition is trying to pass are crucial.

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