PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SIGNS EQUAL-PAY LEGISLATION

 

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama signed his first bill into law on Thursday, approving the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for Ms. Ledbetter, fourth from left, an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.

 

 

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Published: January 29, 2009
 
WASHINGTON — President Obama signed his first bill into law on Thursday, approving equal-pay legislation that he said would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody.”
 
Mr. Obama was surrounded by a group of beaming lawmakers, most but not all of them Democrats, in the East Room of the White House as he affixed his signature to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.
After a Supreme Court ruling against her, Congress approved the legislation that expands workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, relaxing the statute of limitations.
 
“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” the president said.
 
He said was signing the bill not only in honor of Ms. Ledbetter — who stood behind him, shaking her head and clasping her hands in seeming disbelief — but in honor of his own grandmother, “who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up again” and for his daughters, “because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams.”
 
The ceremony, and a reception afterward in the State Dining Room of the White House, had a celebratory feel. The East Room was packed with advocates for civil rights and workers rights; the legislators, who included House and Senate leaders and two moderate Republicans — Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine — shook Mr. Obama’s hand effusively (some, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, received presidential pecks on the cheek) as he took the stage. They looked over his shoulder, practically glowing, as Mr. Obama signed his name to the bill, using one pen for each letter.
 
“I’ve been practicing signing my name very slowly,” Mr. Obama said wryly, looking at a bank of pens before him. He handed the first pen to the bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, and the last to Ms. Ledbetter.
 
The ceremony also marked First Lady Michelle Obama’s policy debut; she spoke afterward in a reception in the State Dining Room, where she called Ms. Ledbetter “one of my favorite people.”
 
Mr. Obama told Ms. Ledbetter’s story over and over again during his campaign for the White House; she spoke frequently as an advocate for him during his campaign, and made an appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
 
Now 70, Ms. Ledbetter discovered when she was nearing retirement that her male colleagues were earning much more than she was. A jury found her employer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Ala., guilty of pay discrimination. But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the case, ruling that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her peers.
 
Congress tried to pass a law that would have effectively overturned the decision while President George W. Bush was still in office, but the White House opposed the bill; opponents contended it would encourage lawsuits and argued that employees could delay filing their claims in the hope of reaping bigger rewards. But the new Congress passed the bill, which restarts the six-month clock every time the worker receives a paycheck .
 
Ms. Ledbetter will not see any money as a result of the legislation Mr. Obama signed into law. But what she has gotten, aside from celebrity, is personal satisfaction, as she said in the State Dining Room after the signing ceremony.
 
“Goodyear will never have to pay me what it cheated me out of,” she said. “In fact, I will never see a cent. But with the president’s signature today I have an even richer reward.”
 
 
 
***********************************************************************************
President Barack Obama has signed his first bill into law.
 
The “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”:
 
 
 Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit begins at the date the pay was agreed upon, not at the date of the most recent paycheck, as a lower court had ruled. This precluded lawsuits by plaintiffs who alleged ongoing pay discrimination but who did not discover it until years after the discrimination began.
 
A bill to amend the statutory limitations period and supersede the Ledbetter decision failed to pass in the 110th Congress, and was re-introduced in the first session of the 111th United States Congress. In the 2008 elections, the Democrats criticized Republicans for defeating the 2007 version of the bill, citing Republican presidential candidate John McCain‘s opposition. Then-candidate Barack Obama supported the bill.
 
 
Wow. Will wonders never cease?
 
But, keep in mind, not all women are paid equally any more than women are paid equal to men in salaries and wages.
 
In fact, Black women are paid less than White men, White women, and even Black men in many professions/jobs.
 
Now a Black woman can make the same amount of pay for the same job that a White man makes and what a White woman makes.
 
Oh, ya’ll didn’t know that all women are not paid equally?
 
Didn’t know that a White woman makes $0.78 cents for every $1.00 that a White man makes. . . .
 
. . . .but,
 
. . . .a Black woman makes $0.67 cents for every $1.00 that a White man makes.
 
So, now that President Obama has signed this piece of legislation into law, a Black woman, doing the same job/skill/career, can earn the same pay that a White man makes, that a White woman makes, that an Asian man makes. . . .oh, you get the picture.
 
Oh, and not to be forgotten is that unlike some White women, many Black women are more likely to have to work two jobs to make ends meet; Black women are more likely to have to return back to work sooner than White women, after delivering a child from pregnancy; Black women are more likely to have to start work sooner, and retire much later than both White men and White women.
 
Care to take a guess as to why? There are many reasons, but, here are a few:
 
Black women’s husbands often do not make as much as White women’s husbands, therefore, millions of Black women have to work at two jobs to help keep the family afloat. Many Black women cannot (like they have for the last four centuries), be able to be SAHM the way so many of them desire to do. Black women who do attend college, graduate, and apply for the job, have to be twice as qualified to get the job.
 
 
Black women have to be over-qualified just to get past the interview.
 
Ya ‘know. . . .The 50% Sister:
 
 
Many Black women know 50% of the job before they are hired, they have to be 50% better than their fellow co-worker, and then they have to run the gauntlet to gain respect and support on the job. Many Black women are already written off as soon as they set foot on company property, so, they have to contend with more than just getting equal pay for equal work.
 
 
“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” the president said.
 
 
All are still not created equal, President Obama.
 
 
So, the gist of the matter is. . . .
 
 
. . . .if it is bad for White women, it is triple bad for Black women.
 
Then again, this piece of law will give Black women and other women the right to sue against pay disparity, not to mention dispelling the 180-day loophole that gave millions of women no adequate time to file a suit against pay disparity on the job.
 
No one should get more pay than their co-worker for the same job, when they have the same commensurate skills.
 
Whether that be a married man, a single man, a divorced man.
 
Or a woman.
 
That the SCOTUS rendered a ludicrous decision on this case does not surprise me. The SCOTUS has cared more for the “mainsteam/status quo” for centuries, (read: White male), and their decision showed their continued contempt for employees, and solidarity for employers.
 
Men do not own a monopoly on having familes to care for. Men do not own a corner on the labor market to be paid more than a woman just because men have testosterone and androgen, and women have estrogen and progesterone.
 
Men are not the only ones who have responsibilites, and pay/wages for work done should not reflect a difference because of one’s gender.
 
All women who work for an employer, be she single or married, should get equal pay for equal work.
 
Nuff’ said.
 
Okay, just one more itty-bitty thing. . . .
 
 
. . . .how about the payment of equal benefits and pensions? Men are not the only ones who should have carte blanch access to these forms of supplemental payments, not just within that particular company…but, across the board: the local office, division office, the district office. Women and men should get the same benefits/pensions at the same pace, in the same time. And while we are at it. . . .
 
. . . .it is way past time for this so-called country to invest in childcare and family leave benefits that truly help employees.
 
 
Families are a foundation that is all too often butchered on the altar of scapegoats: necessary when the politican needs them, kicked to the curb, when the politician has leeched what he wanted from the “I am pro-family”, mantra.
 
How’s about passing the Employee Free Choice Act: 
 
 
 
 
The time also needs to cease between the societal derision given to so-called “female occupations” and “male occupations”. No job/career is better than another; all work has value to it.
 
But, this law protects all women. As well as minorities and the disabled.
 
And that is something to be thankful for.
 
Goodyear:
 
Take notice—-you get no more of my hard-earned dollars. Since this is how you (mis)treat your employee who gave you 19 years of service, then I do not want to give you any dollars for your products.
 
Everyone is profusely thanking President Obama for his support on this bill; not to be forgotten are the Congress people who helped make it happen:
 
-Senators Susan Collins, and Olympia Snow, both of Maine, and a special “Thank You” to Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
 
Ms. Ledbetter will never see any monies from the discrimination she endured from pay disparity, but, she got something even more profound:
 
 
 
“Goodyear will never have to pay me what it cheated me out of,” she said. “In fact, I will never see a cent. But with the president’s signature today I have an even richer reward.”
 
 
Indeed.
 
 
To President Obama:
 
Thanks for signing this legislation into law.
 
Closing down Guantanomo Base.
Now this.
 
Careful, President Obama, you are trying to get my belief and faith to build up in you.
 
Not bad for your first week in office. (Well, so far.)
 
Much remains for you to build my faith and confidence in you.
 
Right now, on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 great, 1 bad, well. . . .
 
 
. . . .I’d say you are at a 5 right now.
 
Keep it coming.
 
There’s hope for you yet in this lady’s heart and mind.
 
Then again, that’s what change is, isn’t it, President Obama?
 
One. . . .step. . . .at. . . .a. . . .time.
 
 
 
 
Barack Obama signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 1-29-09.jpg
President Barack Obama signs “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009”, January 29, 2009. 

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