When our granddaughters read their history books, this week may well be one that is marked as the beginning of the end of the pay discrimination many of their foremothers endured.
On Thursday of this week, the Senate holds its first hearing on the Fair Pay Restoration Act (S.1843) in its Health, Education, and Labor Committee. This act would restore the ability of an employee to challenge pay discrimination whenever he or she learns about it. This right was curtailed when the Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 opinion, ruled last year that an employee has only 180 days to pursue legal action if he or she suspects pay discrimination.
Appalled Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, women's and civil rights groups organized, and some in Congress responded, with the House of Representatives passing the Fair Pay Restoration Act last session.
But as our studious granddaughters will tell us, a bill won't become a law without its passage in both houses of Congress plus the president's signature. That's why what's happening right now is so historic. This week and last, members of MomsRising.org have been coordinating meetings in their home states with their U.S. Senators to press for the passage of the Fair Pay Act. MomsRising.org's partner organizations -- including Color of Change, Mothers & More, National Partnership for Women & Families, and MoveOn.org -- are inviting hundreds of thousands of people to attend the meetings that MomsRising.org members set up. Those attending the face-to-face meetings with the Senators and their key staff are talking about why the Fair Pay Act is important to them, their families' well-being, and the trust they place in the employers that enjoy the fruits of their labor, day in and day out, year in and year out.
For mothers, the outcome of these meetings and the hearing are particularly critical. Mothers make 73 cents to a man's dollar (single mothers make about 60 cents), and they often work within the confines of unspoken, subtle discrimination because they have family care responsibilities. Indeed, years may pass before a mother has an inkling -- let alone hard evidence -- that others in the same job have been paid more than she. After all, she's not spending her free time outside work researching pay scales and promotion rates in her occupation and comparable ones. She's busy raising the next generation of Americans who will become our teachers, doctors, inventors, entrepreneurs and, yes, senators. For that she ought to be rewarded, not punished with a wage gap.
To find out if there is a meeting happening near you, go here. Even after the Senate holds the hearing on Thursday, you can make your voice heard by writing a letter to your newspaper's editor and by signing the petition here. Let them know that you are one of the millions of people participating in the passage of this bill. And when your future granddaughter takes for granted the equal pay she earns, let her know that your imprint, however small, belongs on that page of history too.
A Peaceful Revolution is a weekly blog about work/life satisfaction done in collaboration with MomsRising.org. Read a blog by a leading thinker in the field every Tuesday.
Follow Nanette Fondas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NanetteFondas