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Today is #GivingTuesday. Donate Now to the Bellefonte Historic Preservation Foundation. No fees on donations — 100% of the donations go towards #HistoricPreservation. https://www.facebook.com/donate/424309088102528/
My town. Bellefonte. I’m proud of its legacy on civil rights. We were a significant part of the Underground Railroad in the 19th Century.
Serge Bielanko posted an article about Martin Luther King and Bellefonte’s history associated with civil rights on our local website. There are a couple of paragraphs from this article that I’d like to share:
In the early 19th Century, Bellefonte rose up from nothing on the hardworking backs of the iron workers who sweated away in the forges that dotted the landscape. Many of those workers were African-American. And later, before the Civil War- when slavery was becoming a hotly contested issue- Bellefonte was a vital stop along the infamous Underground Railroad. The name Bellefonte was whispered in hushed tones among men, women, and children who were fleeing a life of servitude in search of true freedom.
Think about that for a moment.
Bellefonte once literally meant ‘one step closer to freedom’ to human beings in a way that none of us will ever truly understand or fathom. That’s something for each and every one of us to be proud of in this town. I’m not blowing smoke. It’s a heavy notion, but one which I suspect Dr. King would have tipped his own cap to if given half a chance.
Around the time Civil War broke out, Bellefonte’s very own, Andrew Curtin, became Governor of Pennsylvania. This native son was a fierce champion for equality and a close confidant of President Abraham Lincoln’s throughout the war. Governor Curtin was in staunch opposition to slavery and fought fiercely to wipe it off of the American map. He was an important man in United States history, and one that represented a side of Bellefonte that so many current residents still stand strong for.
Among the several stops on the Railroad were the Saint Paul AME Church, the Linn House (which now houses the Bellefonte Art Museum), the Samuel Harris House (home to Candace and Bob Dannaker; she’s a former mayor of Bellefonte), and the William Harris House (aka, “The Wren’s Nest,” home to Ted and Carla Conklin ). Here are some pictures of these stops on the Underground Railroad.
Standing up for equality on Martin Luther King Day and every day, as was done here in the 1800’s, is the legacy we need to perpetuate here and across the country.
I’ll do my part. Will you?
History appears to be repeating itself. We’re heading towards another economic cliff with this Republican tax proposal. As my husband said this morning, we don’t need or want this devastating tax cut that’s being proposed. And neither does anyone else we’ve talked to.
Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”
“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous…
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If you want to quickly determine if a white person in the United States is comfortably racist, I’d recommend a single question. Ask them, “Should our nation pay reparations to black people for the enslavement, mistreatment and economic exploitation of them and their ancestors over the past four hundred years?” If they immediately reject this proposition, you can be fairly confident you’ve identified a comfortable racist. On the other hand, if they’re willing to give this question serious consideration, you’ve probably identified an ethically responsible and racially conscious white person. It’s really that simple.
There is simply no compelling argument against the payment of reparations. The studies and research have been done. The historians, economists and ethicists have spoken. While there can and should be considerable debate over how reparations should be made, any white person who argues against reparations is either ignorant, immoral, racist or all of the above. …
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Yesterday I attended an hour-long townhall presentation put on by the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. This town hall discussed Trump’s new travel ban that was issued on Sunday, September 24, 2017, and fully goes into effect on October 18, 2017.
The Proclamation is entitled, “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.” What is it and what are its effects?
What I learned there yesterday is what I would like to share with you today. Here are some questions, as a non-lawyer, that I will attempt to answer in this blog:
- What is a proclamation and how does it differ from an executive order?
- What countries are affected by this expanded ban?
- What happened to Sudan?
- When does this ban go into effect?
- What are the bans “rules?”
- If you are an international, what kind of help might be helpful?
Note that most of this information came from the Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic and two advocacy groups: the Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Thanks to all three of these organizations for helping to disseminate this information on this new, expanded Muslim and People of Color Ban – Version 3.0.
Several federal district courts entirely blocked Ban 1.0 as a constitutional violation of Freedom of Religion. Ban 2.0 was a streamlined version of Ban 1.0 and was partially allowed to go into effect last June. Both were executive orders. Muslim Ban 3.0, issued last Sunday, focuses on the people being rather than the agencies than ordering what the federal agencies need to do. It was a Presidential Proclamation, not an Executive Order.
Proclamation v. Executive Order
We rarely hear of Presidential Proclamations but often hear of Presidential Executive Orders. Ban 3.0 was promulgated as a proclamation rather than an executive order. I wondered what the difference was.
The effects, in my opinion, are relatively the same. The difference seems to differ on only who (or what) they are ordering. All US presidents have used both of these regulatory instruments that have the effect of law unless overturned by Congress or the US Supreme Court for superseding presidential authority. This power is loosely based on Section II of the US Constitution. The Constitution states, “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States,” “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,” and “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The differences between the two, according to the Yale University Library, is based on the focus of the targeted entity in the declarations.
Executive Orders are the formal means through which the President of the United States prescribes the conduct of business in the Executive Branch. They relate to how and what executive agencies do.
Proclamations, unlike executive orders, are aimed at those outside of the government. Proclamations can grant presidential pardons, commemorate or celebrate an occasion or group, call attention to events, or make statements of policy.
The first two immigration statements (aka Ban 1.0 and Ban 2.0) were Executive Orders. They ordered the State Department, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol, among the many federal agencies to prohibit the immigration and landing of Muslims from entering the United States. Ban 3.0 was a Presidential Proclamation.
Good Proclamations v Bad Ones
The most famous Presidential Proclamation was President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862; it went into effect on January 1, 1863. This Proclamation freed the slaves, ensuring the end of the bondage of Blacks when the Civil War ended. This Proclamation, along with the 14th Amendment ratified soon after the Civil War ended, granted full citizenship to permanent residents regardless of race.
The Emancipation Proclamation says, “Welcome!” In contrast, Trump’s Banning Proclamation, essentially says, “Go Home. Don’t come here. We don’t want you. And here’s who we don’t want.” As you can see, proclamations can do good as well a bad.
This most recent proclamation, just like the Emancipation Proclamation, has the force of law. The result, however, is not much different than an Executive Order. Bans 1.0 and 2.0 tell the agencies what they need to do. Ban 3.0 tells targeted individuals to “stay away,” or “we will deport you.” Unlike the two previous executive order bans, these restrictions listed in this proclamation are indefinite. BAD (and “Sad”).
Who is affected by this Ban? The Expanded Ban
So, who is Trump saying to go away?
Bans 1.0 and 2.0 solely targeted citizens of Muslim/Islamic religious-dominated countries. The new Proclamation targets citizens of 8 countries – 6 Muslim/Islamic-dominated countries, an Asian country, and a Latino/a country. Trump says all eight countries are a security risk.
Fyi, Muslim refers to people who follow the religion of Islam. These two terms can be used interchangeably. I’m using the religious term below for each country based on how they are commonly described.
These countries are:
- Chad – a central-African Muslim country;
- Iran — a Middle-Eastern Islamic country;
- Libya – a North-African Muslim country;
- Somalia – a Muslim East-African country;
- Syria – a western-Asian Muslim country; and
- Yemen – a Middle-Eastern Muslim;
The two non-Muslim countries that have been targeted are:
- North Korea – an Atheist-based Asian country currently conducting a war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un; and
- Venezuela — A South American Catholic-based country riddled with violence and corruption which thousands of their citizens are fleeing and currently seeking refugee status in other nations.
This expanded list adds Chad as well as these two non-Muslim countries. Some speculate that this was purposefully done to skirt the religious freedom protections of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. Either way, it still targets people of color and is discriminatory.
Trump Removed One Country from Ban 3.
Ban 2.0 listed seven countries where their citizens are banned from entering the United States. His original ban included the six Muslim/Islamic countries listed above as well as Sudan. Sudan is a North-African Islamic country. Ban 3.0 no longer targets citizens of this country.
Why did Trump’s proclamation delete citizens of this country from the ban? We don’t know. Much of the rationale is, at least partially, a state secret. Trump won’t say why.
Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a magazine I rarely read, commented this way (and I agree with them):
“Obviously, it goes without saying that a travel ban is a gross and un-American way of handling immigration, but the removal of Sudan from the list is interesting and raises a lot of questions.”
And here’s the transcript of what Trump said when asked about the removal of Sudan – a muddling of what’s going on here.
President Trump on why Sudan was removed from the travel ban pic.twitter.com/ipEAS2F5XP
— Yeganeh Torbati (@yjtorbati) September 27, 2017
When does this ban go into effect?
This unending travel ban has two different start dates. According to Penn State Unversity’s Law Center for Immigrants Rights Clinic, the effective dates differ based on whether or not the banned country is listed in Executive Order EO 13780 (aka Muslim Ban 2.0).
For the five countries still listed from that Executive Order (Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen), any national who lacks a “bona fide relationship” with someone or entity in the US was immediately banned from entry into the United States on September 24, 2017.
For the remaining three countries (Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela) that were added to this Proclamation’s travel ban, all restrictions and limitations on travel to the United States, regardless of a “bona fide relationship” take effect at 12:01 am on October 18, 2017. This additional level of restrictions also becomes active for the five original countries on this date.
Who is being denied entry?
That depends on which banned country you are coming from, The Proclamation does the following by country of origin:
- North Korea and Syria: entrance to the United States as an immigrant or non-immigrant is denied;
- Chad, Libya, and Yemen: entrance to the United States as either an immigrant or visiting the US on business or as a tourist is denied (visiting US-based family members appears to be ok);
- Iran: entrance to the United States as either an immigrant or as a visitor is denied UNLESS you are entering under an F (full-time educational programs), M (technical or vocational programs), or J (research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange) visa. Extra scrutiny will be done with people seeking this exception;
- Somalia: entrance to the United States as an immigrant is denied. Visitors (i.e., “non-immigrants”) will be subject to additional scrutiny (which as far as I can tell, is not described in the proclamation); and
- Venezuela: entrance to the United States as a visitor either for business or pleasure is denied IF you are on the list of certain Venezuelan government officials; this ban is also extended to their family member. Visitation and/or immigration by others from this country is still allowed.
What is a Bona Fide Relationship?
According to Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Fact Sheet:
Foreign nationals who can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the U.S. include:
Individuals who have a close familial relationship in the U.S. This includes parents (including in-laws and stepparents), spouses, fiancées, children (including in-laws), siblings (including in-laws), half-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Individuals who have a “formal, documented” relationship with a U.S. entity that was “formed in the ordinary course.” Examples of such a relationship include: students who have been admitted to a U.S. university; workers who have accepted an offer of employment from a U.S. company; and lecturers who have been invited to address a U.S. audience.
Who from these targeted countries are exempt from this travel ban?
Again, according to According to Muslim Advocates and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Muslim Ban 3.0 Fact Sheet:
Lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
Those admitted or paroled after the effective dates in Section 7 of the Proclamation;
Those with an otherwise valid document – rg. a transportation letter, appropriate boarding foil, or advance parole document – on the Proclamation’s effective date;
Dual nationals when the individual has a passport issued by an unaffected country;
Those traveling on diplomatic visas such as a G visa;
Those granted asylum, admitted as a refugee, or granted related relief.
Waivers to the Travel Ban
Section 3 of the Proclamation does allow for waivers on a case-by-case basis. Since waivers are vague and based on interpretation and how the individuals present themselves, access to these waivers might be limited, in my opinion. Once again, I’m not a lawyer, but I would recommend that people from these targeted countries seek legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney or clinic before attempting entry to this country to improve their odds of obtaining such a waiver.
The Fact Sheet states that waivers can occur under the following circumstances.
When denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship and their entry would not pose a threat to national security or public safety, and would be in the national interest; and
On a case-by-case basis. Case-by-case waivers may not be granted categorically, but may be granted in individual circumstances such as:
Those previously admitted and outside the U.S.;
Those with established significant contacts with the U.S. but currently outside the U.S. on the effective date;
Those seeking to enter the U.S. for significant business or professional obligations;
Those seeking to visit or reside with a close family member and whose denial would cause undue hardship;
Those who are an infant, a young child, an adoptee, or in need of urgent medical care or with those with special circumstances;
Those employed by the U.S. government; and
Those traveling with purposes related to business with the U.S. government or on behalf of certain international organizations.
The Center for Immigrant Rights Clinic gives further details on these waivers.
Section 3(c) of Presidential Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities & Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats includes a waiver scheme for certain nationals who would otherwise be suspended from entering the United States. The burden is on the foreign national to show that his or her entry (A) denying entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship; (B) entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States; and (C) entry would be in the national interest.
The Proclamation states that case-by-case waivers will not be issued categorically, and goes on to list the following ten situations in which a waiver would be appropriate:
the foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry would impair that activity;
the foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the applicable effective date under section 7 of this proclamation for work, study, or other lawful activity;
the foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry would impair those obligations;
the foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfullyadmitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry would cause the foreign national undue hardship;
the foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case;
the foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee), and the foreign national can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government;
the foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. 288 et seq., traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA;
the foreign national is a Canadian permanent resident who applies for a visa at a location within Canada;
the foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor; or
the foreign national is traveling to the United States, at the request of a United States Government department or agency, for legitimate law enforcement, foreign policy, or national security purposes
In reading the additional information on these waivers, several items popped out to both the lawyers and me at the Clinic.
First, “undue hardship” is not defined in either the immigration statute or in the regulations. This term only appears in the Muslim Bans 2.0 and 3.0. The term that does show up in the rules is “extreme hardship.” And that term doesn’t define family separation or relocation as an “extreme hardship.” So I could see someone, on a case by case basis, being denied a waiver under section 3(c), reason A, even when she can show that they are not a threat to national security (reason B) and their entry is in the national interest (reason C).
Second, who defines what “the national interest” is? I could easily see a consulate employee denying entry simply because their definition is limited to say, for example, a need for a high-level employee but not for that person’s family to accompany her.
Third, what does national security” actually mean? Since many of the decisions on the travel ban seem arbitrary (for example, each country has differing levels of scrutiny and types of bans based on the proclamation’s reasoning for the travel ban), how would a consulate employee make a fair decision on security? The question is what type of levels of evidence would be required to pass this test.
And finally how long would each applicant have to wait before a waiver decision is made? Keeping people in limbo, particularly when family members are separated, is stressful, intimidating, and hateful.
All three travel bans are incongruent with our country’s history of welcoming open arms. Our Presidential Executive Orders and Proclamations should all be following the sentiment proclaimed at the base of Lady Liberty, aka the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Instead, our government is telling the world and people of color, especially people from Muslim and Islamic countries to “stay away, ” or “we will deport you.”
If you are a foreign national, be aware of what this proclamation does. Search for and contact an immigration lawyer to help you circumnavigate these torturous waters. Here’s an immigration attorney search link I found that might help . And don’t leave the US if you are already here without first determining if you are likely to be able to return.
Over the last ten months, 50 leaders from the for the profit, the non-profit, and the local government groups in Centre County, PA came together for a training and networking to increase our knowledge and multiply our skills to help the citizenry throughout the county.
This program has been held for the last 25 years by Leadership Centre County.The Mission of Leadership Centre County is to increase the community’s pool of servant leaders by:
- Bringing diverse individuals together for networking, education, and exposure to community issues, opportunities, and needs;
- Encouraging increased participation for leadership in civic service; and
- Creating a support network for present and future leaders.
This is my thank you to Leadership Centre County for this wonderful training and experience.
Sonnet to Leadership Centre County
September to June we came together
50 people from around the county
Knowing a little, wishing for better,
We worked together for civic bounty.
We joined each other for play and hard work
At camps, wineries, some parks, and two prisons
In towns and museums, streets, and some kirks
We got to see new ideas and great visions
Each day was diverse. You could say unique
In juntos often, with programs, we’ll lead
Taking time and effort to share our technique
25 years and counting we can now accede
We have loved your wonderful bounty.
So Thank you, Leadership Centre County.
My first article for Psyched Magazine! It is a personal piece that I hope interests and resonates with others.
Since I started this blog in December 2012, I have annually written about pay equity during April for Pay Equity Day (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016). That day is today. As in past years, Ni-Ta-Nee NOW, the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, will be distributing flyers educating the public about the economic inequality in women’s pay. We’re letting people know that we continue to have a lack of progress in eliminating pay inequity. Here’s the information we would like the public to know.
April 4, 2017
This date symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. FYI, This is eight days less than 2016, ten days less than 2015, four days less than 2014, eleven days less than in 2013 and thirteen days less than in 2011 when Ni-Ta-Nee NOW started tracking this date! Tuesday, April 4, 2017, is the day on which women’s wages overall catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year. It is also the day when white women’s wages catch up with men’s wages. But most women of color take much longer to achieve equity.
The Wage Gap
The commonly used measure to determine the pay gap is the ratio of women’s to men’s median annual earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Based on these earnings, women as a whole earned just 8 percent of what men earned in 2015 (AAUW, 2017). Between 2006 and 2015 the weekly gender wage gap narrowed by just 0.3 percentage points, compared with 6.0 percentage points in the previous ten years (1996 to 2005). At the current rate, it will be 2059 before women achieve wage parity. This lack of progress needs to be overturned!
Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 85 percent of what the average white man earned in 2012. White, non-Hispanic women are next, earning approximately 75 percent of white men’s average income, African-American women earn 63 percent, Pacific Islander women earn 60 percent, Native American women earn 58%, and Hispanic women earn just 54 percent of wages as compared to white men (AAUW, 2017).
A woman who is just starting her career now will earn $418,800 less than her male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career. For Asian-American women, it’s $387,640; for white, non-Hispanic women, it’s $462,000; for African-American women, it’s $657,680, for Native American Women, it’s $789,120, and for Hispanic women, it’s $899,400. (NWLC, 2017).
Differences in the wage gap are due more than just the types of jobs men and women work. Part of the problem is due to gendered, sex-segregated jobs where women are paid less. This disparity is partly due to the minimum wages often paid to women and for jobs that require the same level of skills, knowledge & abilities but for which women are paid less. Other reasons for this pay gap include the lack of paid sick days and family leave, unfair scheduling practices, and lack of pay transparency protections in these female-dominated occupations (Center for American Progress, 2015).
Wage Gap in Pennsylvania
The pay gap is even worse in our state. When ranked among the other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed it 27th (tied with AR, IL, NE, TX, and WA) among the states (AAUW, 2017). The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year-round in Pennsylvania in 2015 was $40,742 compared to men’s $51,212 or 80% of what a man earns. This disparity results in a wage gap of 20%.
Centre County is part of Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District (CD). Women in the 5thCD earned $33,325 compared to the $45,385 that men make or 73.4% of what a man makes. We rank 15 out of 18 in the state in terms of the wage gap. This disparity results in a wage gap of 26.6%. Philadelphia’s 1st CD fares better than the rest of the state, with a difference of just 11.3% (AAUW, 2017).
A woman who is just starting her career now will earn $430,480 less than her male counterpart over the course of a 40-year career. For Asian-American women, it’s $387,640; for white, non-Hispanic women, it’s $462,000; for African-Americans, it’s $657,680; for Native American women, it’s $789,120; & for Hispanic women, it’s $899,400 (NWLC, 2017).
What Can You Or I Do About this Inequity?
If You are an Employer
If you are an employer, you can get help in examining pay practices by conducting an equal pay self-audit using the guidelines from the US Department of Labor (available at www.pay-equity.org/cando-audit.html).
If You Believe You Are Experiencing Wage-Based Discrimination
Tell your employer if you see or think that you are being paid less than your male co-workers. Click here for some tips on negotiating for pay equity.
If there’s a union at your place of work, ask for their help.
If discrimination persists: There are three places to file complaints – at the federal level, at the state level, and at the local level.
At the Federal Level
You can file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Go to this link and follow the instructions.
At the State Level
You can find your state’s anti-discrimination agency website and contact information through the Job Accommodations Network, a free service of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Most of the agencies have a website address that you can copy and paste into your browser. All of the agencies have a phone number that you can call for assistance.
If you live in Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg. Contact information is available by region. Just go to their website and look for your county’s name. The phone number and address for your regional office is listed directly above the names of the counties served by each office.
At the Local Level
You should also check to see if your local county, city, or community has an ordinance providing similar protections for wage-based discrimination. You can also file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
There are a few communities throughout the country that have created local ordinances that include the state-based anti-discrimination protections and have also expanded coverage to other areas (such as protections based on sexual orientation, family status, and family responsibilities across the lifespan). If so, you can more conveniently file a wage-based complaint at the local level. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination agency to see if there is a local ordinance in your community.
In Pennsylvania, there are about 30 cities and municipalities with such an ordinance. Your regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission can give you this information, along with whom to contact. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination office if you live in another state to determine if your state allows such local ordinances and if such a law exists in your community.
You Can Also Advocate for Changes in the Law
There are bills before Congress and in state legislatures that deal with some of the issues affecting wage inequity. If you want to advocate at the federal level, you can find your US Representative and your US Senators’ contact information at https://www.congress.gov/members. To locate the contact information for your state legislators, go to http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ and fill in your mailing address and hit the “locate” button; your legislators’ picture, addresses, and phone and fax numbers can be found when you click on her/his name. It some cases, this website will also provide a list of bills your legislator has sponsored so that you can see if one or more of them support pay equity.
Here are the issues you for which you should consider advocating. Since I live in Pennsylvania, I’m listing both Federal and Pennsylvania-specific bills. For bills specific to your state, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures website to find and go to your state’s website. You will then be able to search for the bills on pay equity, paycheck fairness, minimum wage, sick leave, etc. to see if there is a bill or law in your state addressing these issues. If not, then contact your legislators/public officials and ask them to sponsor such bills.
Raise both the regular and the tipped minimum wages.
At the federal level, there is currently one bill addressing this issue. It is HR 122 — The Original Living Wage Act of 2017. It was introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX-9). There are currently seven additional co-sponsors: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD-7), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA-5), Rep. Hakeem S. Jeffries (D-NY-8), and Rep. Marc A. Veasey (D-TX-33). For this bill to move, MANY more co-sponsors are needed and your representatives need to hear from you.
In Pennsylvania, there are two bills —SB 12 — Raising the Minimum Wage and Modernizing the Minimum Wage Act & SB 163 —Raising the Tipped Wage Act.
Many states and local communities have either increased the minimum and tipped wages or have bills in the hopper on this issue. According to the Raise the Minimum Wage website, “As a result of Congressional gridlock and growing income inequality, a record number of states are taking action to raise their wage floors above the federal [level]. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have set their minimum wage above $7.25/hour, including two which have raised it to $15 (California and New York). And in several other states, advocates are actively promoting an increase in the wage floor to at least $12. For more information on these types of bills, check out the Raise the Minimum Wage website for their listing of state-level initiatives.
Pass paid sick leave legislation.
At the federal level, check out HR 1022 and S 362 — the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2017. Note these bills only affect federal employee sick leave. So to create paid sick leave for the rest of us, we’ll need to look to the states and local municipalities for this form of legislation.
In some states, this type of legislation can also be enacted at the municipal level. Currently, four states (Connecticut in 2011, California in 2013, Massachusetts in 2014, and Oregon in 2015) and the District of Columbia (2008), as well as 18 cities and communities, have implemented paid sick leave. These 18 cities (with the year of passage noted) are:
- California: San Francisco (2006), Oakland (2014), and Emeryville (2015), Los Angeles and San Diego (both in 2016)
- Maryland: Montgomery County (2015)
- New Jersey: Jersey City (2013), Newark, Passaic, Paterson, East Orange, Irvington, Montclair, Trenton (all in 2014), Bloomfield (2015), New Brunswick, Elizabeth, and Plainfield (all in 2016)
- New York: New York City (2013)
- Oregon: Portland (2013)
- Pennsylvania: Philadelphia (2015) and Pittsburgh (2015). Note however that Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave ordinance was ruled as invalid by a county-level judge in early 2016 and is currently on appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
- Washington: Seattle (2011) and Tacoma (2015)
Create laws that make payment of wages fairer by eliminating pay secrecy rules & pay discrimination.
Types of paycheck fairness rules include limiting occupational requirements to bona fide occupational factors like education, skills, and experience, prohibiting employer retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries and denies employers the ability to require employees to sign a contract or waiver prohibiting them from disclosing information about the employee’s wages. The federal bills that have focused on this issue entitled the Paycheck Fairness Act; this bill has yet to be introduced in either the US House or Senate so far this year. The National Women’s Law Center has several good articles on paycheck fairness, including why women need more wage protections and information on how the Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens the Equal Pay Act. Take a look at these articles and then contact your US Senator(s) and your US Representative if you believe they might be willing to take the lead on this bill. FYI, the past prime sponsors of this bill that are still in Congress are Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3).
Stand up. Fight back.
So, on this Equal Pay Day, get going! Follow the lead of the millions of women and their allies who participated in the Women’s Marches on January 21, 2017. Stand up! Fight back! Call on your legislators at all levels to work towards pay equity. Tell your employer/union that you want and expect fair pay. And reach out to others of like mind. This pull for equal pay will be a long haul effort. But we can eventually make it happen. Let’s do it!.
I participated in the march on Denver on January 21, 2017. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people were walking for democracy in Denver; we joined several million men, women, and children around the world who are standing up and fighting back for our rights and for our democracy. Here are three pictures I took while in Denver for the March.
And here’s another perspective on the Women’s Marches around the world from a fellow blogger.
I couldn’t stop laughing! A poll shows that Republican males believe that their lives are harder than those of women. Men make more money for the same work, have a far less chance of rape, don’t have their reproductive rights attacked, and do far more housework than men while holding a full-time job, but white men are the “low people on the totem pole” and “everybody else is above the white man,” according to an 81-year-old retired police captain. He complained that “everything in general is in favor of a woman. No matter what happens in life, it seems like the man’s always at fault.”
In this survey taken after the election, only 41 percent of GOP men think now is a good time to be a man. Although one-third of women feel unsafe because of their gender, only 20 percent of men understand that women feel this way. Thirty percent of women…
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