President Barack Obama has declared today Equal Pay Day to highlight the discrimination women currently face in wages for equal work. In an official statement, President Obama said "On National Equal Pay Day, we recognize this injustice by marking how far into the new year women have to work just to make what men did in the previous one. Wage inequality undermines the promise of fairness and opportunity upon which our country was founded. For families trying to make ends meet, that gap can also mean the difference between falling behind and getting ahead. ... And just as diminished wages shortchange families, they slow our entire economy - weakening growth here at home and eroding American competitiveness abroad."
Women currently only make 77 percent of what their male counterparts make, and face discrimination in benefits, wage increases, hiring and advancement, and time off. "We make 77 cents on the dollar, but if you check for age, women at 50 versus a man at 50, the gap widens," Eleanor Smeal, president of Feminist Majority Foundation said. "If you count benefits, the gap widens because most women do not have pensions, and 48% of women workers have no paid sick days, let alone paid family medical leave."
Another barrier to equal pay for women is paycheck secrecy. According to Representative Rosa DeLauro and Senator Barbara Mikulski in in op-ed in the Huffington Post, "Workers who violate formal pay secrecy policies or ignore their managers' informal admonitions face potential retaliation, including the prospect of being fired, demoted, or passed over for raises and promotions. In short, pay secrecy policies keep unequal pay hidden from employees and enable pay discrimination to continue." Representative DeLauro and Senator Mikulski have introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in an attempt to stop this discrimination. "The Paycheck Fairness Act, which we have introduced in Congress to give real teeth to the Equal Pay Act, addresses the lack of accountability that allows companies to get away with underpaying women ... Among other things, it would ban retaliation against workers who discuss their wages and close the door on pay secrecy for good," they wrote.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 4/9/2013; Presidential Proclamation 4/8/2013
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .