Pay Discrimination OK by McCain
by Tula Connell, Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 08:45:54 AM EDT
This is a crosspost from AFL-CIO Now Blog.
So it seems Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) thinks it's just fine if women workers can almost never get redress for pay inequities they suffer on the job.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to vote on a bill that would have enabled women who are paid less than their co-workers doing the same job to challenge the inequity. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama took time from their campaigns to vote for the Fair Pay Restoration Act.
"I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems," the expected GOP presidential nominee told reporters. " This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system."
Senate Republicans killed the bill Wednesday night on a 56-42 vote that denied the measure the 60 votes needed to advance it to full debate and a vote. The Fair Pay Restoration Act, also called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, would have reversed a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision dismissing a suit by Lilly Ledbetter, an employee for 19 years at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Alabama. Her suit alleged she was paid less than her male counterparts.
In the Ledbetter ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said she did not file her lawsuit against Goodyear within 180 days after the discrimination occurred, as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court let the company off the hook by calculating the deadline from the day Goodyear made its original decision to pay her less than her male colleagues. The law had previously made it clear the clock did not start until she received her last discriminatory paycheck. The bill would have removed the 180-day limit.
Saying McCain let down millions of women who are fighting for what they deserve, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney notes it's "appalling that women continue to earn less than men even though statistics show they are better educated." Says Sweeney:
It's time for Sen. McCain and Senate Republican leadership to stop making excuses and take long overdue action to rectify this injustice.
Earlier in the week, McCain stood outside a failing factory in Ohio to announce his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade deals that put corporate interests above the needs of working families. Yesterday, he took the opportunity to snub working women while in Inez, Ky., a community whose families are struggling to make ends meet.
McCain stated his opposition to the bill as he campaigned in rural eastern Kentucky, where poverty is worse among women than men. The Arizona senator said he was familiar with the disparity but that there are better ways to help women find better paying jobs.
"They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else," McCain said.
It's unclear where McCain plans to get the money to pay for programs like education and training. According to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, McCain has proposed more than $300 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy and said,
unlike President Bush, he will pay for these tax cuts by "cutting spending." But he has "failed to give details about what, exactly, [he] would cut." According to an analysis released today, he would need to cut more than $250 billion from spending, above and beyond the spending cuts he has already identified.
Sen. McCain could cut approximately 20 percent from all discretionary programs. Alternatively, he could protect defense spending and cut 40 percent from domestic programs. Either scenario would result in massive cuts in key anti-poverty programs.
Better not enroll in those education and training programs just yet.