On April 28 the U.S. Senate failed to pass a significant piece of legislation: H.R. 2831, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007.
This bill was a remedy to the 2007 Supreme Court decision that ruled against Lilly Ledbetter in her pay discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber The bill would have "reset the clock" for filing pay discrimination lawsuits with each and every discriminatory wage practice by employers (issuing a paycheck for example). SCOTUS ruled that workers who face wage discrimination have only 180 days to legally challenge the initial discrimination.
Both Democratic senators and presidential candidates (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) voted in favor of the bill. John McCain, the Republican, missed the vote.
I thought so but then I found this interesting tidbit:
Non-intern female employees did better working on the Senate staffs of John McCain and Hillary Clinton during the latest public reporting period than they did working for Barack Obama, Cybercast News Service determined through an analysis of payroll data published by the Secretary of the Senate.
Yep. It's true! Hillary Clinton and John McCain pay their female staffers better than Barack Obama pays his female staffers. In fact, Barack Obama's female staffers are paid $10,477/year less than the male staffers. Here's the money data:
Average annual pay for all (16) male employees earning more than $23,000 annually: $56,628.83
Average annual pay for all (30) female employees earning more than $23,000 annually: $59,104.51
Average annual pay for all (33) male employees earning more than $23,000 annually: $59,207.63
Average annual pay for all (31) female employees earning more than $23,000 annually: $48,729.91
Average annual pay for all (22) male employees earning more than $23,000 annually: $56,731.34
Average annual pay for all (43) female employees earning more than $23,000 annually: $56,050.20
This is what an unidentified Obama spokesman said about the wage disparity:
"Senator Obama believes that bringing together people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints is critical to tackling the tough challenges our nation faces today. He has followed that principle in assembling his Senate staff, which he believes is the finest in Congress."
What? Is this more "post-partisan" change talk? If so, it sounds an awful lot like the old politics double talk. Not, mind you, that I'm surprised. I have never believed Barack Obama was anything more than a politician, and a centrist politician at that. Also, "change" can mean pretty much anything you want it to mean.
Still, I expected something better from Barack Obama, if for no other reason than he is a Democrat. I actually expect Equal Pay to mean something and I expect Democrats (especially those in Congress) to live up to the Equal Pay Act.
I must say, though, I am surprised that a Republican would actually pay his female staffers better than the Democrat pays his female staffers. OTOH, I could have told anybody that Hillary Clinton would actually put the Equal Pay Act into practice. She's a feminist and a longtime vocal advocate for women's equality.
Here's why equal pay matters. Aside from the very important principle involved (which liberals should be concerned about), it's a matter of economic equity for women (which liberals should also be concerned about).
As I discussed in why I'm tired of the Roe v. Wade arguments, women get only about half as much in pensions and Social Security benefits as men. We live longer than men, but our pensions/benefits are less and they have to stretch farther and last longer. The full article/report is here.
Let's say that an "average" female staffer in Sen. Obama's office is 30-years old. Maybe she's younger, maybe a little older. But we'll use "30" as the magic number. As such, she has 35 years left in the workforce, assuming she retires at 65.
Over the course of those 35 years, if the $10,477 pay differential stays static, she loses $366,720 in lifetime wages. No small potatoes, this, because these "lost" wages would have been used in the calculation of her pension and Social Security benefits.
But this figure won't remain static. The men in Sen. Obama's office will continue to increase their pay proportionately, even if every staff person - male and female - receives the same 2.5 percent annual COLA increase. The pay gap only widens under these circumstances.
So, a 2.5 percent annual COLA increase would amount to $1,480 for the men (or $60,687/year) while the average woman will get just $1,218 (or 49,947/year). Now, instead of a $10,477 annual difference, there's a $10,740 annual difference. Obviously we could carry this on forever, but you get the idea.
I know that people work in Washington, D.C. because of the opportunities to use their degrees, to get into politics, to learn the system(s), to make contacts, etc. And often there is a trade-off between the money a person earns and the skills and knowledge he or she gets that can then be parlayed into a better, more powerful, higher-paid job. That's all fine because it's a conscious, individual choice they make. We're not talking about individual choices here, we're talking about a big wage disparity across the board between male staffers and female staffers. Men make nearly $11,000 more a year in Barack Obama's U.S. Senate office than do women.
This is a principle, just as FISA, NAFTA, the environment, and workers rights are principles. Yet I see nothing in the Left blogs that even mentions this. I guess they're still too busy reeling from Obama's "move to the center" to really care about equal pay. I've become quite skeptical of "progressives" on the rhetoric vs. the "rubber" on many issues (and for me, women's equality is among the top three).
There's a move afoot among Obama's more liberal supporters at MyBarackObama to "encourage" him to vote against FISA when the Senate reconvenes next week. I've read that the group currently has 10,000 members.
Do you think there are 10,000 women who would do the same to demand that Sen. Obama uphold equal pay for equal work?