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Commentary Last Updated: May 1st, 2008 - 00:44:53

Why do the Republicans oppose fair pay?
By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 1, 2008, 00:14

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On April 23, Senate Republicans blocked the Fair Pay Restoration Act from moving to an up or down vote.

To give credit where due, there were a few exceptions, with Republican senators Collins (ME), Smith (OR), Snowe (ME), and Specter (PA) voting "Yea." But, unfortunately, they are a mere drop in the big greedy, white male Republican bucket.

This legislation was prompted by the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear, in which the Supreme Court held that a worker has only a 180-day window in which to take action in pay discrimination cases. In other words, in the Ledbetter case, Lilly Ledbetter waited too long to sue. She would have had to take action within 180 days of when the pay discrepancy began. The problem: She didn't learn about it until several years later.

So, according to the current law upheld last year by the Supremes, you have to be a mind reader or else accept the lower wages.

The Democrats in Congress are trying to change that, so that women and other minorities can more easily sue in the event of pay discrimination.

But that, according to the Republicans, is apparently a bad thing. And that includes presumed Republican presidential candidate John McCain. McCain didn't show up for work that day, and so he didn't vote on the bill. But he did find time to tell reporters that he opposes a Senate bill that seeks equal pay for women because it would lead to more lawsuits!

In other words, your Republican presidential candidate doesn't want a law guaranteeing equal treatment for women because that might be enforced via the courts if necessary.

McCain himself admitted at the time that he wants more freedom than that for businesses. To hell with the little guy -- or gal.

Shame on him for choosing the rich corporate vampires over the regular working Americans who have suffered enough for the man!

I wonder what Cindy McCain thinks about the fact that her husband doesn't want to guarantee fair pay for their daughters, because their daughters might then be able to sue if they are paid unfairly.

Does she even care? And, if so, would it matter? Cindy McCain is chairman of her family's business, one of the largest Anheuser-Bush distributorships in the US. So I'm sure that her daughters will be well taken care of no matter what.

But do the McCains care about the rest of us? That is the real question in this election year.

And Senator John McCain's opposition to the Fair Pay Act suggests that his answer is "Nay."

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:

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