Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Report on the AAUW Trip

From Garnette Arledge:

The Washington DC trip, April 25-28, four days, three nights was like reading my own memoir without writing it.

Every single thing we saw: illuminated monuments, iconic Capitol, White House, National Cathedral, National Gallery of Art holds a special personal memory. Memories of growing up there, marching for causes, working on the 'Hill', studying during Library of Congress high school dates, came alive.

We missed the cherry blossoms by days. However lacy spring azaleas, dogwoods, wisteria charmed us until finally at a rest stop on NY Thruway, I lingered under a double blossom cherry tree - just the right fillip at the end - in a pouring rain.

Some comments from the thirty-seven congenial traveling companions: 'I saw a lot, I learned a lot.' 'The people on the trip were very nice.' 'Washington DC is one of our great American cities. I loved it – I could spend two or three months seeing everything.'

Some spotted political celebrities at the National Shrine noon mass. Others reveled in the new acquisitions at DuPont Circle's Phillips Museum. Those who had tickets for the Holocaust Museum came back deeply moved.

Let's keep going to see our national treasures; it expands our vision.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Day 2 at state convention: Good Day, Irene!

Greetings from the Otesaga Hotel in beautiful downtown Cooperstown, where the women are most definitely above average! ;)

Breaking news
The state delegates overwhelmingly passed the new and improved Clean Money, Clean Elections resolution at the business meeting on Saturday morning — hurray! AAUW NYS will post it on their Web site and send some official information about it to the branches soon.

Got inspiration?
We heard from more excellent women on Saturday, at the podium and in the audience, including LAF Luncheon guest speaker Claire Shuster (more info). Claire Schuster, a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at Berea College, spoke of her suit for sex discrimination in pay.

Patricia Smith, New York State Commissioner of Labor, related her efforts to enforce the minimum wage law on behalf of employees of New York City greengrocers (receiving $250 a week for 72 hours work), deliverymen for A and P and Gristedes (paid $2 an hour), and bathroom attendants in nightclubs and restaurants (no pay; charged $25 to $50 a week for the opportunity for tips). She pointed out that legislation is useless without enforcement, and enforcement requires budgeted money.

Christianne Corbett, Research Associate at AAUW’s national office, gave a preview of the upcoming report, “Where the Girls Are”. Both genders and all ethnic and income groups have been making gradual but steady improvement in test scores, with boys continuing to do better on average in math and girls higher on average in verbal skills. Since white, Hispanic, and Asian males continue to attend college in larger numbers that females in the same groups, the so-called “boy’s crisis” turns out to be more specifically a crisis for black men, who are far less likely than black women to earn degrees.

Carolyn Donovan, AAUW’s representative to the United Nations, updated us Sunday on her efforts on women’s education, the status of women, and women’s human rights. She has worked to include “and girls” in each statement for women’s rights. She pointed out that the United States is the only major nation of the 7 countries who have not ratified CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

P. S. Has anyone heard from The Capitol Gang?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kingston Branch Receives President's Award - Honorable Mention

It's the first night of the AAUW NYS Convention and we're already receiving recognition. This is the first year of the President's Award. The plan is to recognize two branches that implemented exemplary mission-related programs. Well, we didn't receive the award, but they felt they wanted to recognize Kingston for our use of technology. Here's Irene Miller, Ruth Wahtera, and Susan Holland with our Honorable Mention certificate. We are delighted to have our work recognized.

This afternoon at the resolution caucus, we were surprised by some opposition to the Clean Election resolution. Some members expressed concern that this effort would divert members from the AAUW NYS public policy goals. We think it is central to accomplishing our goals. So tonight the three of us worked on an amendment we'll propose tomorrow. The amendment clearly states the relationship between Clean Elections and our goals. Wish us luck.

Lilly Ledbetter was the keynote speaker tonight. Her story is compelling and it extends beyond the Supreme Court ruling.

For two decades at Goodyear Tire, Lilly Ledbetter was paid less than any man in her position. The Supreme Court ruled that since she did not file suit within 180 days of receiving the first discriminatory paycheck (even though the company forbade employees to reveal their salaries) she is unable to ever collect any back pay. A bill in Congress to make the 180 day clock start after each act of discrimination failed this week to get enough votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster or override a veto threat.

She spends much of her time now working for passage of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. She reported on her week in Washington and how close we came. But not close enough.

So that's the news from Cooperstown. What's happening with that tour of Washington, folks? Or, did you leave your computers home???

Thursday, April 24, 2008

First Disappointment then More Action

Test Vote is Just the first in Pay Equity Civil Rights Skirmish
Washington, DC - Under heavy pressure from women's and other civil rights groups, the Senate Wednesday narrowly failed to pass a test vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 2831).
"We got 56 senators to vote for pay equity," said Lisa M. Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. "While we needed 60 votes to move to final passage, it's clear a majority of the Senate supports this critical civil rights legislation."
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act corrects the Supreme Court's wrongheaded decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. AAUW believes the May 2007 decision severely limits the ability of victims of pay discrimination to seek vindication. "The decision also turns 40 years of legal precedent and EEOC practice on its head," said Maatz.
The legislation is a narrow fix that returns the legal standard to what it was prior to the Ledbetter decision. "There are no surprises or poison pills," Maatz said. "The bill is a reasonable response to an unreasonable decision, and AAUW and its members will not stop until the Senate gets it right."
AAUW noted that the pure vote on the measure was actually 57-42; in a procedural move, Majority Leader Harry Reid changed his vote so that he can bring the bill up again at a later date.
"A large majority of women identify equal pay for equal work as a national priority in this election year," said Maatz. "Equal Pay Day and continued pay equity efforts this month serve as an effective reminder of this fact for our elected officials as voters consider their choices."

Senate Fails to Move Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to a Vote

It's hard to believe we're still fighting for pay equity. We've been disappointed for the second time. Last week by the NY State Senate, this week by the US Senate.

Yesterday there was a vote in the US Senate to end debate and move to a vote an the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It takes 60 votes to succeed. We only had 57, so Majority Leader Reid voted with the Republicans -- a procedural move that will allow him to bring the bill up again at a later date.

You can see how the senators voted here.

Remember, it's an election year. Senator McCain didn't show up for the vote. How would he have voted?

Both our senators voted in favor, of course. You can send them a thank you note through the AAUW take action link.

This weekend Lilly Ledbetter is the keynote speaker at the NY State AAUW Convention. I look forward to hearing her story firsthand.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pay Equity sidetracked by NYS Senate

Hi Pay Equity Supporters,
Well, the NYS Fair Pay Bill is still held hostage in the Labor Committee but the Senate has pushed a bill the falsely claim addresses pay equity (S7521 Robach) into the rules committee today so it could be voted on. It came to the floor and passed unanimously. The Senate Majority then claimed that pay equity had been passed. Craig Johnson, sponsor of the Fair Pay Bill debated with Robach very strongly about what he was doing. This is the web site that has Irene Liu's account of what happened this afternoon and also the story that ran into day's paper. I am also attaching it. If you go to the web site there is a video of the session. http://blogs.timesunion.com/capitol/ All of this activity is a compliment to our successful events. Please pass this along to your networks - Best, Lois (Hagniere)

NB: Thanks to all KAAUW who called our NYS Senator Monday. Pay Equity is still an issue - Garnette

Monday, April 14, 2008

Phone Senator Bonicic Monday for Pay Equity

Call your state senator right now! Senator Bonacic's number is 518-455-3181 in Albany and 607-746-6675.
The New York State Fair Pay Act (S. 3936), which would amend the State Labor Law to ensure that employers pay jobs where women and people of color predominate comparably to jobs of equivalent skill and responsibility, is being held-up in the Labor Committee. The New York State Senate will hold a vote on a petition to discharge the bill from committee on Tuesday April 15 at about 2 p.m so that a vote on passage can be taken by the Senate.
Take Action!Call your state senator today to urge him or her to vote for the discharge petition and on passage of the bill.
You can find the phone number for you senator and online at http://capwiz.com/aauw/utr/1/GIOKIHYARP/HGNLIICPOR/1897440121. There is a ZIP Code look-up and a district map if you do not know your senator's name and need to look that up.
When you've called your senator, please tell him or her:
"I strongly urge you to support the New York State Fair Pay Act (S. 3936) by first supporting voting for the motion to petition expected on Tuesday, April 15, and then by voting for bill's passage when it comes to the floor."
"The New York State Fair Pay Act (S. 3936) would amend the State Labor Law to ensure that employers pay jobs where women and people of color predominate comparably to jobs of equivalent skill and responsibility."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

77 Cents on the Dollar --And Lip Service from Albany

More than 40 years after passage of the Equal Pay Act the average women continues to earn only 77 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts. Minority women face an even larger wage gap.

Just one year out of college, women working full time earn only 80% of what their male counterparts earn, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, the gap widens. Pay disparities affect women of all ages, races, and education levels-regardless of their family decisions.

AAUW believes that pay equity is a simple matter of justice and continues to support initiatives that seek to close the persistent and sizable wage gap between men and women.

In NYS it's time to take action.

It's time for us to take action because Albany apparently won't.

It's the same thing every year -- the pay equity bill passes the House but never gets out of the Labor Committee in the Senate. For six years our elected representatives have been giving us nothing but lip service.

Bruno won't comment. Robach, Committee Chair, talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Read the AAUW Educational Foundation's research report, Behind the Pay Gap for more information information on the pay gap.

CALL Senator Joseph Robach, Chair,Senate Labor Committee
518.455.2909 (preferable) and ask for his Chief of Staff

or write him at 902 LOB, Albany, NY 12247

or e-mail robach@senate.state.ny.us.

Tell him you want the
NYS Fair Pay Bill (S3936) out of committee and on the floor of the Senate for debate. We want to know where our elected representatives stand on pay equity. When will that happen?