Equal pay for women just took a beating in some backwoods state of the USA on March 31, 2012 in a very quiet way. My apologies to followers of ours who live in Wisconsin (I know there are a few) but for goodness sake, how the hell did this happen? I don’t often stray from the primary focus of this site and even less often comment on happenings in the USA, however I smell danger here for woman in any western society if this is not stopped and stopped now. I am a woman and I have three daughters, several nieces, two grand-nieces and a sister. I care what happens.
When I was alerted to this today I thought it had to be a somewhat belated April Fool’s Day joke, but it seems not. There is a word in the Great Seal to the right: Forward. Really? Seems not.
On Thursday, with little fanfare, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which allowed victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts. In doing so, he demonstrated that our political battles over women’s rights aren’t just about sex and reproduction—they extend to every aspect of women’s lives.
Now, I’m no American constitutional lawyer, but I had to ask is it only women at risk here, or does the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act cover other groups as well?
The Equal Pay law wasn’t just about women—it also offered protection from discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. But it was enacted largely in response to a large gap between men and women’s compensation, one that was worse than average in Wisconsin—in 2009 the state ranked 36th in the country in terms of workplace gender parity.
Well, that answers that question. Not just about women, so we had better keep our wits about us.
“You could argue that money is more important for men,” he told Goldberg.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/wisconsin-equal-pay-law-repealed-because-money-is-more-important-for-men.html#ixzz1rW8vZjyU
I am sure that Goldberg will have no problem, then, in increasing the amounts fathers’ pay in child support when marriages fail and the mother, with custody of the children, can not afford to feed the kids because “money is more important for men”. Is this just white men, just for the record?
Where are the women of Wisconsin? I checked a Milwaukee on-line media outlet to see if I could find out. No mention of the eradication of protection of equal pay, however the number of women-owned firms are on the increase in Wisconsin. I’m sure that is comforting for female employees everywhere.
Wisconsin ranked 40th in the nation in the number of women-owned businesses, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by American Express OPEN. The number of women-owned businesses in Wisconsin has spiked 33.5% since 1997, but it’s still below the national average of 54%.
According to the Huffington Post:
“We are finally starting to see progress here in Wisconsin, yet like their counterparts across the country, Legislative Republicans want to turn back the clock on women’s rights in the workplace,” said Hansen.
Women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make. In Wisconsin, it’s 75 cents, according to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH), which also estimates that families in the state “lose more than $4,000 per year due to unequal pay.”
Australian women: DO NOT think this couldn’t happen here. Minority groups everywhere: DO NOT think this can’t happen to other groups in society.
Maybe the right to vote isn’t really important to women either, you think? I am wondering when the witch hunts in Salem will be started up again. Perhaps we are heading for another Spanish Inquisition? How far back are we going to go?
Maybe I am concerned because I am old enough to remember some of the fight. I personally fought for my female staff to be able to wear trousers to work in the 1980s. I know when I started work, city councils still expected women who got married to LEAVE WORK.
What are your views? Why aren’t American women up in arms over this? Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Should other states in the USA be worried? Should Australian women and minority groups be worried? What can we do to stop this insanity before it goes any further? Please share your thoughts. #KeepEqualPay
Edit June 16, 2012: Michigan hit the headlines when a woman was barred from debate in for using the word “vagina”. The topic of the debate was abortion.
- Cancer starts with one cell: it spreads (teamoyeniyi.com)
- Wisconsin Docks Equal-Pay Rights (thedailybeast.com)
- DNC chair slams Wis. gov. Walker for ‘Equal Pay’ repeal (news.yahoo.com)
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[…] Today I got yet another shock. I have written recently about attacks on women from men who live in a delusional fantasy world about the roles of the sexes in life. Dear Max Tomlinson was written in response to a particularly strange Australian and before that I wrote about the repeal of some legislation in Equal Pay for women at risk? […]
Yes, Scott’s action was quite bold but he’ll soon be gone and done (recalled) with leading that state. Lots of activity going on inclduing all nentioned above. Sadly, it does seem with each day that we are stepping back into the dark ages for women over here.. .
Bold and from what I read, quite secretive. Bold I do not mind, secretive I do not like. 🙂
As for the dark ages – looks like both our countries are on a retro path, sadly: at least in the minds of some.
[…] are too many jobs in Australia for men like you, although you might find a job in Wisconsin, USA. Governor Walker may have similar views to your […]
Great piece — but be sure: American women, and especially women in Wisconsin (including me) are up in arms. There is a recall election (of Governor Walker) underway because a half a million people signed recall petitions. We’re not sitting here knitting. 🙂
Good to hear it! Actually, Nancy (see her comments below) did forward to me some fund raising material indicating very strongly that people ARE on the move!
I am sorry if I made it sound as if you were just sitting there knitting – I will admit I wrote when I was in the shocked phase and believe it or not, I could find very little in the on-line papers in Wisconsin to give me a feel for the local reaction at all!
Three cheers for Wisconsin women!
‘Equal pay for equal work’
What’s the difficulty of understanding this? I don’t get it. That men will always struggle to get into the better positions, this is something that won’t ever change, I think. I just would like to see more justice in this world. We should aim for supporting people who fight for justice rather than those who are out to exploit the underprivileged.
Just amazing, isn’t it? I agree, do idea why ‘Equal pay for equal work’ is such a difficult concept at all. There is a movement afoot in to counter this particular action, so I hear. And so there should be!
Oh this is just the tip of the iceberg. Women’s rights are sliding backwards in many ways here in the U.S. I think we got complacent and forgot the laws can be ignored, or reversed, or new laws put in place that are even more draconian than previous laws.
I am glad to see several Americans stand up and be counted, Trinity. I agree, I think we do get complacent and think the battle is over, when in reality it isn’t.
There is something very strange happening, I believe.
I feel so angry by this. Surely this guy has a screw loose and it can’t be legal!
However, women will always have to fight for their rights, laws mean very little especially at boardroom level.
I live in a country where shop assistants ignore me and speak to my husband, even if its me who asked the question. hmmm I feel a blog post coming on here and a rant! LOL along with half cars!!!.
Don’t mention the buying of cars! 😆 I’ve walked out of car yards if the salesman doesn’t talk to me – actually, I don’t think any Australian car salesmen are that stupid any more: most Aussie women are pretty specific about who is actually buying their car when they go car shopping – and it IS NOT their husbands! Let me know when that article is up! 🙂
As to was it legal: A) It was in America, B) he just made it legal by repealing the law. 😀
It is a worrying development. I would not be surprised if there were further erosions to follow in the coming months. How enabling discrimination solves economic problems is beyond me (that seems to be one of the “reasons”) but then thankfully I don’t live in Wisconsin.
Appaling retrograde nonsense, and in the USA! I wonder how the Wisconsinites feel about this.
The Winconsinites seem to be remarkably quiet about it. The comment about the extra cost of an extra agency actually don’t wash – after all, there is no need for an agency for EVERY piece of legislation. I am just very concerned there seems to be a lot of places around the world taking backward steps at the moment and I wonder what will be next.
As I said in the article of mine I link to at the bottom – these things start small and grow slowly, until one day we turn around and we have lost what we fought hard to attain. Mind you, let us not forget the USA doesn’t have terrific industrial relations laws in the first place. Some states don’t even have an annual leave provision, while in California you can take leave if you get burgled. All very odd. Employ at will is hardly civilised either.
When Barack Obama became president of the United States many people who have been bigots all their lives were surprised and shocked because they believed that an African American would never become president. Accepting Obama as President would mean that the bigots no longer held superiority over African Americans. They did not want to lose their feeling of power and priviledge so they went on the attack. Part of that attack was formed in the phrase “take back our country.” What, exactually did that mean? This is the place where Gov. Walker and his colleagues come into play. They want to return the country to the pre-civil rights years where women and minorities were descriminated on a regular basis with little or no legal recourse. Because of the political power enjoyed by Walker and his colleagues, they want to try and retain/regain some of that power.
Thank you for your input, Paul. I won’t try to add anything else, this is definitely your area of expertise. 🙂
Wisconsin’s state motto should be “back~ass~wards.” It does seem as if we are descending back into the dark ages . . . when neanderthals roamed the earth.
Politics in the US is a scary business at present.
I can understand if the legislation was truly redundant, Nancy, but it was only enacted in 2009, so how on earth was the legisaltion enacted so recently if it were truly redundant?
Plus the quotes from the Governor are the worrying bit.
The law was unnecessary and added high civil penalties on top of normal compensation. Without the law, anyone who feels they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the Wisconsin’s Equal Rights Division which reviews accusations of workplace discrimination, and if founded, can order the employer to pay a worker back wages and perhaps rehire the person.
Then there’s the federal anti-discrimination laws still in place as well.
The state is in financial trouble so cuts had/have to be made to save money or education and other important programs are going to have to be cut even more. The law created a new and unnecessary agency with more bureaucrats and paperwork, which cost the state money. The fact is that even though tax payer money was going out to maintain the new agency, it wasn’t doing anything for workers so was a waste of money. Workers who felt discriminated against continued to go to the WERD (Equal Rights Division- state) or EEOC (Equal Opportunity Commission-federal) so the agency employees were left playing with paperclips on the tax payers’ dime. That was the reasoning for the repeal, not as cited in the left wing articles you used for reference.
How do you explain the quoted reasoning for the repeal? I assure you I tried to find other coverage as reference, but none was to be found easily.
Was the law felt necessary when legislated? If so, what has changed since 2009?
Your comments, while logical, do not address the issue of the stated reason; money is more important for men and THAT mentality is the real worry here.
Was this Act more accessible by the average worker than the other legislation you cite?
Oh dear, Oh dear! The average wage of women in the UK is still lower than mens too..
I think the average wage always will be. Many factors affect women’s working patterns that do not affect men’s. The mathmatical calculation is therefore not a wonderful indicator. HOWEVER equal pay for equal work is just mandatory in any civilisation that considers itself civilised!
The USA doesn’t have great industrial relations laws to start with and we saw the last Australian LNP government try to erode worker’s rights in a similar fashion.
It is the reasoning behind this stap that bothers me the most.