January 29, 2009
Today, President Obama signed his first bill into law: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – a landmark bill to protect workers against pay discrimination. In other words, equal pay for equal work. Sounds like plain old common sense, doesn’t it? And yet to this day women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. As Obama said, as quoted in the AFL-CIO blog:
In signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability.
The bill was introduced after a Supreme Court ruling two years ago rejected a $360,000 award in back pay to Lilly Ledbetter, a woman who worked for Goodyear in Alabama. Ledbetter had previously discovered a huge gap between her salary and that of her male colleagues, prompting her to sue. This initiative restores longstanding protections against wage discrimination and will also ensure that women and families get the pay that they deserve to pull through these difficult economic times. Since the 1970s, AFSCME has been one of the strongest advocates for closing the wage gap. As we pointed out in a previous Greenline post:
AFSCME members have been the recipients of more than $1 billion in pay equity adjustments won at the bargaining table, in state and local legislatures, and through political action.
There is still much work to be done in the fight for fair pay but, thanks to this new law, we have taken a big step towards attaining justice at the workplace.