Minnesota: Republicans propose repeal of fair pay laws for women

Read the article below from the Minnesota Independent.  This is crazy.  Any study of the history of wages shows that  society still discriminates in pay, including bias based on gender.  An article published in Time Magazine in April 2010 confirms that this trend continues today.  Hopefully the Minnesota legislature will understand that repealing fair pay laws is a bad decision.  Further, the way it has been buried in the legislation shows that its sponsors have ulterior motives and had perhaps hoped to keep this repeal out of the public eye until it had already passed.

Republicans propose repeal of fair pay laws for women

Minnesota Republicans have introduced legislation that would repeal the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act (LGPEA), which directs local governments to ensure that women are paid the same as men. While local governments say reporting requirements are costly, equal rights groups say the law needs to stay intact in order to ensure fair pay, especially for women of color.

HF7/SF159 would repeal a laundry list of mandates on local governments — including regulations on part-time police officers, agricultural programs for low-income farmers and grants for libraries — but buried in the bill is a full repeal of the LGPEA.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is pushing the repeal. In a December report on public employee compensation, the group wrote, “State pay equity/comparable worth law should be repealed. Its purpose is outdated, and requiring governments to correct perceived ‘errors’ in labor markets based on bureaucratic and subjective assessments of the relative value of government jobs is an unnecessary and costly mandate.”

Shannon Drury, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the group “strongly opposes” a repeal of the law.

“Why the legislature would repeal this measure in such a difficult economic climate is beyond me,” said Drury. “Women are now the majority of the American workforce, due in part to the recession’s disproportionate toll on men.”

She added, “In simpler terms, women’s paychecks are crucial to families’ survival. This bill would remove protections that ensure women’s full compensation under the law.”

Several recent studies have pointed to continued discrepancies in pay for women in Minnesota.

In June, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota found that, overall, women still earn less than men in the state. White women earned 76 cents for every dollar that men earn, and the numbers were much worse for women of color: Native American women earned 69 cents to the dollar, African American women 61 cents and Hispanic women earned 51 cents to the dollar.

Those numbers were for all workers in the state, not just the public sector.

The Office of Minnesota Management and Budget looked at 2010 levels of pay for women in a report released in early January. In a report to the Minnesota Legislature, the MMB found that there was almost a 10 percent inequity in the wages that women were paid in public sector jobs.

“Before the inequities were corrected, the average pay for females in the examples was $16.27 per hour,” the report noted. “After adjustments were made, the average pay for females was $17.86 per hour.

The MMB directs municipalities, school districts, counties and other public employers to correct pay differences.

“Prior to the adjustments, females were paid 83% of what males were paid, but after the adjustments, the wage gap narrowed and females were paid 91% of what males were paid,” the report said.

Minnesota was the first state to pass pay equity laws: In 1982, it passed the State Government Pay Equity Act, which covered state employees, and in 1984 the LGPEA was passed to cover all public employees in the state.

The law doesn’t say that cities can’t give performance raises or pay more to workers who have seniority, but over broad classes of employees there cannot be substantial pay differences between jobs held by men and jobs held by women. And each public institution needs to track the pay of its employees and report to the state every three years.

If a public entity fails to file a report or to take corrective action if pay inequities occur, it could lose a portion of its government aid.

Drury said that as long as inequities exist, there is a need for the law.

“Pay equity laws won’t be archaic until pay discrimination ends,” Drury said, noting the Minnesota Chamber’s assertion that the law is outdated. “As long as discrimination exists, these measures will remain necessary to ensure compliance. Repealing this law takes money out of women’s wallets. It’s that simple.”

In the Senate, the bill was introduced by Republican Sens. John Carlson of Bemidji, Mike Parry of Waseca, Al DeKruif of Madison Lake, Gretchen Hoffman of Vergas, and Paul Gazelka of Brainerd.

In the House, it was introduced by Republican Reps. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, Roger Crawford of Mora, King Banaian of St. Cloud, Kurt Daudt of Crown, Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls, Kelby Woodard of Belle Plaine, Duane Quam of Byron, Bob Barrett of Shafer, Joe McDonald of Delano, Peggy Scott of Andover, Bruce Anderson of Buffalo, Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe, David Hancock of Bemidji, Mark Murdock of Ottertail, Keith Downey of Edina, Tim Kelly of Red Wing and Doug Wardlow of Eagan.

More Discrimination Protection in Missouri State Goverment

The following is an article by Virginia Young from STLtoday.com:

JEFFERSON CITY — A group representing gays and lesbians is celebrating a declaration by Gov. Jay Nixon that says state government shouldn’t discriminate against its employees based on their sexual orientation.

Though the statement has no force of law, it establishes a clear policy for the executive branch and is a “major stepping stone to achieving a statewide” anti-discrimination law, said A.J. Bockelman, executive director of the gay rights group known as PROMO.

Nixon buried the nugget of news in an executive order he issued earlier this month at a convention of the NAACP.

State law already bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, and disability. Nixon’s order added sexual orientation and veteran status to the list of protected categories for state workers.

The order called for the state to treat its employees equally in regard to hiring, recruiting, training, benefits, promotions, transfers, layoffs, demotions, terminations, rate of compensation, and recalls from layoffs.

Equal treatment also should apply in the way state services and facilities operate, the order says.

Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon, said the move “was not aimed at any particular group. It sends a message that Missouri will not discriminate in any of these categories.”

Nixon hasn’t always drawn praise from gays and lesbians. Some were irked in 2008 when, as Missouri’s attorney general, he urged delay of a California court ruling allowing same-sex marriages.

An Enlightened South Pacific?

During my sophomore year of high school, I acted (I guess you can call it that) in my synagogue’s production of South Pacific.  I really like the musical, as I do most productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

I just rewatched the DVD with my family today and was thinking about just how much I enjoy this musical.  There is a lot going on here and it has some of my favorite love songs, some of which are included below.  I noticed something though during this viewing of South Pacific that I had missed previously: the show may be “revolutionary” in terms of its pushing the limits with interracial love and marriage.

South Pacific actually has elements of a diversity lesson in it – that skin color is not as important as feelings or who people actually are.  A white person and a Polynesian person can fall in love, have children, marry, etc.  More importantly, South Pacific shows a key lesson through this: hate, prejudice, and discrimination are learned – i.e. you are not born hating other people.  This is a great truth and something that I hope got highlighted at the time of the show’s popularity as well.

Here is the song, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”, although not the original version:

Some of my favorite songs, in various renditions:

My Undergraduate Thesis

I am finally done!  I have completed my undergraduate thesis!  Since March 2009 I have been learning research methods, developing a topic, researching, reading, writing, refining, editing, changing, thesising, etc.  After countless hours of work (and at least as many thinking about/complaining about the work I needed to do), I am done.  64 pages / 18,357 words later I am happy with my work.

Topic: The Rising Influence of Segmented and Fractionalized Communities in Israel

Thesis Completed for:

Advisor: Jonathan Adelman, Professor of International Studies

If you are interested, click here to read my thesis.

Update: May 3, 2010: I’ve turned in my thesis and my Advisor has given me an A.