Letter to the Editor: Government policies that hurt women

By Action Network member Judy Belanger (pictured here)
Pawtucket, RI
April 24, 2014
Originally posted in the Attelboro Sun Chronicle

To the editor: How can Anna DeMarinis (“Compare apples to apples, not oranges,” April 20) claim that wage discrimination is a “fraud,” when unequal pay is concealed by employers? Employers can retaliate against women who ask male co-workers what they make. The Paycheck Fairness Act would protect women’s right to know and prevent retaliation. But Republicans blocked a vote on the bill, so companies who practice wage discrimination will continue.

The first bill President Obama signed into law as president was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. If any women, including White House staffers, have been subjected to pay discrimination based on gender, President Obama has given them the law that will ensure the opportunity and time to effectively assert their rights under the federal anti-discrimination laws. Congress established the federal wage system. As expected, White House salaries are made public. I don’t know of any staffer who has yet filed against the White House.

The letter defends discrimination and talks about men having more risks on the job, and full-time versus part-time work. The Census reports the median earnings for women were lower than those of men in 264 of 265 major occupation categories – an overwhelming number. In 99.6 percent of occupations, men were paid more.

Before anyone else compares “coal miners” to “librarians,” they need to give deeper thought to the causes of wage discrimination before declaring it a fraud. There should be more equality of opportunity. Pay discrimination goes deeper than just numbers. Voting against policies that help families, and failure to provide options such as parental leave and paid sick days, hurt women more than men.

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