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.


Shane said...

Hey, she gets my support just for using the word "frack" in her highly serious political rant.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MWS said...

Anonymous posts are not allowed on this blog.

For those of you who are interested, that one purported to be from a 22-year old male who was making $0.24/hour less than a female co-worker, who had been at the company a full year longer. He was suggesting that Von's story was possibly the result of seniority issues.

This is bullshit. It's an old, old rhetorical tactic: to cast (manufactured) doubt on a small element of an argument, and pretend that this invalidates the entire thing.

One of my philosophy-student readers might even remember the Latin term for this (it's one of the classic logical fallacies, but the name escapes me).

However, this was not the reason the post was deleted. I repeat: Anonymous posts are not allowed.

I sign everything I write, and I expect everyone here to do the same. If you don't have the guts to even MAKE UP a fucking name, I can't see any reason why anybody around here should read what you write.


MWS said...

Oh, and Shane?

She's a big BS:G fan, dating back to the old days. Hence the "frack." At least she didn't characterize the Republican position as "felgercarb."

She's also the author of most of the WILLOW FILES Buffy tie-ins, and (I think) a Babblealot 5 tie-in or two, as well as some swell originals like AFTERAGE and FINAL IMPACT.

MWS said...

Oh, and for the record?

I recounted the Anonymous poster's quibble not because I think it's worth responding to, but because my inability to come up with the Latin term is bugging the shit out of me.

Somebody help out, huh?

Nathan said...

I believe it's the Fallacy of Division. Don't know the Latin term.

Nathan said...

Or Dicto Simpliciter, as a hasty internet search turns up?

This is Mastadge, by the way. Blogger can't seem to keep my login info straight.

MWS said...

That's okay, Nate. I know who you are.

Thanks for posting the cover, btw.

Scott said...

I hate to bring this up, but technically, the Fallacy of Division is used to argue that the specific has all properties of the whole.

This is more of an example of the Straw Man fallacy, which I don't believe is one of the classic logical fallacies, more of a rhetorical device.

Nathan said...

Scott, don't hate to do it. Before today I've never in my life considered a list of logical fallacies. Now, by virtue of this discussion, I may learn something.

The way the fallacy of division is described on whatever website I looked at is essentially: The assumption that something applicable to a thing is applicable to all parts of that thing. In this case, because anon's co-worker had seniority and made more, it must be the case that anyone who makes more must have seniority.

Whatever the case, I don't know its name: he's taking a related but dissimilar situation and suggesting similarity.

heathcliff said...

I believe that the Goodyear story is horrenous. A female should never get paid less than a male if they do the same job.

Here's my personal story:

I once worked for a very large retailer. I worked with four or five females and one other male in the electronics department. Whenever there was a ladder to be climbed or a television to be carried or a truck to be unloaded - guess who got the call: me and the other guy. I remember one instance when a announcement was delivered over the intercom which asked for a male associate to come to the front entrance for a customer carry-out. Did we complain? No. What man with any pride would stand by while a lady struggles under the load of a big-screen television? Though the male members of the department did most of the physically demanding work because we were younger/stronger/able-bodied/male/whatever - we were classified as having the 'same' job as the females and were paid the same rate.

Was the female Goodyear executive doing the exact same job as her male counterparts? I don't know. Probably. But, perhaps not. I know gender discrimination exists because in my experience it worked against me. I know I did more work than my female counterparts despite us sharing the same job title.

Cyborg Fighter D said...

^ Sounds like my Wal-Mart days, Heath. I, however, always got irritated at the whole "male associate" thing; it was implicit that they required a male to lift big heavy things, so why say it explicitly?

I actually started to really resent the mindset at my store of "Women can't do physical work, only men are to lift objects of any size, shape or weight." Our managers would encourage the girls on staff to call us Young Men for virtually anything, no matter how menial and unnecessary. Shipping-size box of Kleenex? Call a man. Box of bras on a high shelf? Call a man. Bottle of Lysol on a riser, with a ladder nearby? Call a man!

I never minded when it was something they couldn't actually do. That was never the issue. But I had work to do, too. It's hard to keep your own section in shape when you're running across the store constantly to do things for people who can do them themselves.

Scott said...


Ahh, ok. Yes, you are correct. I was focusing on the "casting doubt on one part of an argument to invalidate the entire argument", which is the Straw Man, but yes, the argument that "Because this one man who made more had seniority, then all men who make more must have seniority" is a classic case of the fallacy of division. Mea culpa.

I went to the website, but I didn't feel comfortable attaching my resume. I'm going to see if there's something else I can do.

Nathan said...


Your story is very familiar to me, except--

In my case, while the men didn't complain -- the women did. And rightly so. I spent two years in one job. The first I was part of a team; the second, a team leader. The teams were coed, usually six or seven women and three or four men. (We were all paid the same.) As a team member, I had limited power to react to this kind of thing without stepping on the boss's toes, but I did what I could. When I was requested, simply by dint of being male, for a task for which one of the women was better qualified, I'd simply say, "Actually, so-and-so has more experience with (for instance) wiring than I do, so why don't you work with her instead," or something along those lines.

Once I was leading the team, I had a bit more power, and occasionally ended up in situations that could have taken a turn for the worse but usually didn't. Usually it was enough to say to whomever was trying to work exclusively with the men, "We're working with you, not for you. This is my team, and I'll distribute the tasks. If you have a problem or want to request a particular person for a job, talk to me first." I found that more often than not, people weren't being malicious or even deliberately sexist: they either honestly didn't realize what they were doing, or they were operating under certain assumptions that, after working with us for a few hours (or in some cases, weeks), they recognized were false. The vast majority of the time, as soon as sexism was confronted, it was willingly withdrawn. It probably helped that some of the women on these teams are among the most competent people and hardest workers I've ever worked with.

What aggravated me most were the occasions when the sexism came from women. I don't mean when women were requested for work, but when women requested men to do jobs they could easily have done. There was more than once where a woman would come and request a couple "big, strong men" to move a heavy box or something, and we'd get there, and the box would be maybe five or ten pounds and could be carried under one arm. That kind of thing I was dumbfounded by.

Anyway, I guess I've had it easy, as nearly all the times I or the people around me have been overtly affected by sexism in the professional world (outside, quite possibly, of schoolteachers) have been cases that have been fairly easy to manage by people who acted out of ignorance that they were happy to overcome.

Christopher said...

First: I love that she used "Frack." Makes me giggle like a schoolgirl. Second: if anything, women should be payed MORE than men if 56%, the MAJORITY, of college graduates are, in fact, women. I hate that she felt she had to argue with men in her "highly serious political rant" to support this cause. Any man who doesn't degrades the word "man." I'm talking about you, McCain.

NSB said...

Second: if anything, women should be payed MORE than men if 56%, the MAJORITY, of college graduates are, in fact, women.

I don't see that the number of members of a sex who graduate should have anything to do with who gets paid higher in the workplace.

I do wish there were a better way to quantify actual productivity, so more people could have their pay adjusted by how much they actually do rather than how many ways that can find to waste time while pretending to work. I can't believe the number of times I've seen people justify laziness or, worse, half-assed work by pointing out that they're "not getting paid enough" to worry about it. Would workplace productivity go up if there were more financial incentive to actually work -- or would people just find more convincing ways to pretend to work?

Christopher said...

When I said "if anything, women should be payed MORE than men if 56%, the MAJORITY, of college graduates are, in fact, women," I meant they should get payed more because this means, potentially, that more women are more educated than men, and thus better able to do their jobs the right way. I do realize, however, that this may not be the case.

steve said...

Sadly this glaring lack of judgement and interest from McCain which speaks volumes about his character will fly under the mass media radar due to the Democratic race being a clusterfuck at the present.

Alaina said...

I've read through all of these comments, and I am glad to hear that the guys of this blog want exactly what is being fought for...EQUAL pay. Yes, the example is of a woman in a horrible situation, but it is still saying ANYONE (not just women).

Beyond that, in my personal experience it kind of goes the other way. I WANTED to do the tasks guys were typically given. My family seems to grow these he-men that can do anything and build muscles at the same rate they breathe. I started rock climbing, I've done karate, generally just work out...and I love sparring. So I'm in pretty good shape, BUT if I had to lift a piece of furniture at my old job or a heavy server tray at my new one...the guys jump in. No offense guys, but not every girl wants you running to their defense. But in our society, especially in the south..guys were raised to protect the women and children first. Protect the kids and the elderly...the women can handle it themselves. If they can't lift something, then you should if you have more muscle than her. If you are like my cousin who has no muscle..please don't volunteer and hurt yourself.

Ok I'm done ranting and you get my point. (FYI at my new one volunteers to lift my trays anymore, they guys finally caught on)

Robert said...

A bit more food for thought.

McCain, once again, out on the campaign trail in attendance at two large fund raising events...while his rivals both took the time (again) to fly back to Washington and vote.

This time it was on a GI Education Bill, which would help veterans leaving the service of our military be able to afford to finish their educations.

A bill that 11 Republican senators crossed over to vote for; a veto-proof percentage. Yet Senator McCain has sided with President Bush in opposition to.

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