Monday, April 28

This from a long-time friend, the novelist Yvonne Navarro. It's worth your attention.

So I have to ask: Would you think that being fair is good... but only for SOME people?

On Wednesday, April 23rd, the Senate failed to pass the Fair Pay Act. What was almost worse than that defeat were the out-of-touch, old-fashioned-- and downright insulting-- statements about women. Senator John McCain (come ON, Arizona!), who didn’t even come to vote, said that instead of legislation allowing women to fight for equal pay, they simply need "education and training."

Lilly Ledbetter, whose Supreme Court case led to the creation of the Fair Pay Act, didn't need "training". She needed Fair Pay. Women today make up 56% of college graduates and nearly half of the labor force in this country. Yet women make only 73 cents to a man's dollar, and mothers only make 60 cents, for the exact same job.

Please sign the petition below in support of the Fair Pay Act. And for good measure, send Senator McCain your resume. Our goal is to send him 100,000. Think he'll get the point?
We Need Equal Pay for Equal Work--it is good law, make it enforceable.

Here's where it gets personal:

The above is taken almost word for word from a Fair Pay Act website. What you'll read below, what I HOPE you read below, are my words, my story. An absolute, God's truth slice of my past:

When I was 18, I worked for a real estate firm in Chicago called Frank M. Whiston & Co. I was an accounting clerk, and I made $380.00 per month, BEFORE taxes. For this $380.00 per month, I opened, counted, and reconciled rent checks from various Chicago properties. Eight feet away from me sat a young man about the same age, and his name was Ray. He did the exact same job that I did. And for this job, Ray made $500.00 per month. He was single, so having a "family" wasn't even a flimsy excuse. He made more than me because he was a man. Period. And while I always found myself borrowing a few bucks from my coworkers every week so I could buy cigarettes (I was a smoker back then), the amount that Ray made more than me each and every month would have literally paid my entire rent.

That was in 1975. Come on, people of America. I really thought we were past that sh*t by now.

But thank you John McCain, who has informed me in no uncertain terms that I do not need equal pay for equal work. I need education and training. May I take this to mean I need MORE education and training than my male counterparts to do the SAME job so that I can earn the SAME amount of money? Perhaps, then, my male counterparts would like to PAY for that education? If being a woman means I am not entitled to equal pay, then being a man should mean men pay more taxes. Pardon me, but both make the same damned amount of sense.

If you are a woman, please go to the link above and sign the petition. If you are a man, before you close this email and forget about it, think about the women in your life. Your mother, your wife, sister, your daughter-- all of these women whom you claim to care so much about will be faced with this. It affects the woman in the next cubicle who struggles to make daycare payments and can't afford family medical insurance. It affects the friend from work you have lunch with in the plaza-- you know, the gal who brings her lunch most of the time and who can't afford to go out to lunch while coworkers of a certain gender eat out 4 or 5 times a week. The world would be a better place and politicians like McCain might actually wake the frack up if their male counterparts added their voices to the "THIS IS NOT FAIR!" scream.

It's not hard to figure it out. Fair should be fair for everyone, not just a few someones.

Thanks for reading this, and for your support.
All best,

Yvonne Navarro


For those of you unfamiliar with the backstory on this, Lily Ledbetter (for whom the Fair Pay Act is named) was a management executive at Goodyear; after putting in twenty-some years there, she received an anonymous e-mail revealing how much the other four executives at her level were being paid -- it had to be anonymous, because discussing executive pay at Goodyear is STRICTLY VERBOTEN.

What the e-mail revealed was that the least-compensated of those co-workers (all men), who was a number of years behind her in terms of seniority, was being paid thousands of dollars more per year than she was (despite her years of promotions and excellent performance reviews). She sued Goodyear for discrimination, and received a substantial jury award -- which was overturned on appeal . . . because, under federal law, a discrimination lawsuit must be brought within six months of the discrimination's FIRST OCCURRENCE. Note that the fact this discrimination was a corporate secret -- concealed by explicit company policy -- is irrelevant. This view of the law was upheld by our Supreme Court (in a majority opinion written by none other than Samuel J. Alito, if memory serves).

Congress undertook to rectify this manifest unfairness by writing a law which would set the deadline for discrimination lawsuits to six months after the discrimination is discovered by the injured party, as opposed to its "first occurrence."

Seems simple, yes? Simple fairness. But in today's America, nothing is ever that simple.

This law sailed through the House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate by Republican filibuster. Mitch McConnell, minority leader, claimed that the Republicans stood against it because this law had been specifically designed purely to enrich trial lawyers by unleashing a flood of lawsuits. (Never mind the finding by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office of just the opposite.)

It's worth noting, here, that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took a day off from their respective presidential campaigns to return to Washington so they could vote on this bill. (For the record: both voted in favor).

Senator McCain was apparently too busy to make the trip.

That's all.