“President Obama gave a powerful and resonant speech tonight, issuing a ringing call for fairness, fair play and equal opportunity in our workplaces and our health care system, and calling on Senators to put partisan politics aside and confirm qualified nominees to our judiciary and other federal posts.
At a time when millions of people in this country are struggling, we encourage lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to stop the political battles and instead advance the fair pay, job creation and other critical initiatives President Obama discussed tonight, because they are the initiatives America needs.
We do need to create more jobs but we must ensure that the jobs we create pay fair wages and provide basic family friendly supports like paid sick days and paid family and medical leave. Promoting fairness is critically important at this time. We learned today that charges of workplace discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have hit a record high. In FY 2011, the EEOC received a record 99,947 charges of employment discrimination — a figure that is shockingly high when you consider that just a small minority of those who experience discrimination file complaints with the EEOC. Sex discrimination charges made up more than one in four of those charges.
Families rely on women’s wages, and right now in this nation, women working full time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. The gap is even larger for women of color. We can and must do better. In addition to promoting new jobs, we urge members of Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 797/H.R. 1519), which would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act by closing loopholes and improving the law’s effectiveness, make it harder for employers to hide pay discrimination, reward employers that have good pay practices, and help train women and girls about salary negotiation.
Tonight’s speech should be a call to action to lawmakers to put aside their differences and instead focus on advancing the agenda the nation needs: jobs that are fair and family friendly; a health insurance system that doesn’t overcharge women or abandon patients when they need coverage the most; and a federal bench without a ridiculous number of vacancies and with judges and justices who protect the rights of the most vulnerable among us.”