I hail from the state (Illinois) of Schock and Awe! Note the photo above, for it may look familiar to you. The famous “Hottest Freshman” as duly noted by The Huffinton Post, and hailed as a “bright, young rising star” by House minority whip Eric Cantor, is none other than Republican Congressman Aaron Schock, who represents “The fightin’ 18th” according to Stephen Colbert. At age twenty-seven, Aaron is the youngest Congressman by six years, and often referred to as “Doogie Howser. Schock has stated, “You have to go where the young people are. Most aren’t picking up the New York Times to get their daily dose of politics. They’re getting online…” When asked about all the attention he’s receiving in the media the Schockmeister gave this response, “It's the story of the day and it goes away. I'm an equal member with an equal vote.” Equal being the key word here, because my scorching congressman seems to think “equal” is meant only for him and not for women, for he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and I am “SCHOCKED” we are still dealing with this issue!
Equal pay for equal work has been the law since 1963, long before Aaron was even thought about, yet forty-five years later women are still paid less than men. The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. The jobs need not be identical, but they must be substantially equal. How hard is that? Well, Schockster, I have a young daughter that is eligible to vote and she does read the New York Times and trust me, she absolutely believes she should be receiving equal pay for equal work.
You all know about Lilly Ledbetter from Alabama, right? She’s the one who got totally screwed over by Goodyear Tire & Rubber and then again by the highest court in this land, The U.S. Supreme Court, made up of all men and one woman, I might add! Thank you, Ruth Ginsburg! I was aghast! This new bill, that thankfully, President Obama signed into law on January 29, 2009, did away with the 180-day statue of limitations for filing and equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay disparity. It rightfully holds their employers accountable for injustice and allows employees to challenge the practice in court.
Now why, you might ask, was Congressman Aaron Schock’s first vote in Congress against helping women fight pay discrimination? I believe his reason for voting against it was to prove himself to the Republican leadership. He did not want to be seen as the “odd man out,” oh no, he wanted to prove himself a team player. He made the clear choice to enable rotten employers to continually and unethically break the law without fear of reprisal. When questioned, Schock’s excuse was that the bill was "a gimme for trial lawyers that removed statute of limitations to be able to sue on pay discrimination," adding it's already illegal to discriminate against someone based on gender, and that he supports equal pay for women. Well, Aaron, you voted against women and women will vote against you.
Today is Equal Pay Day, a day which marks the point in 2009 when the average woman’s wages finally catch up with what the average man earned in 2008. Please think of the women in your life and the years women have spent fighting for justice. They still earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men and for women of color, the numbers are even worse. Do the math! Equal pay is about basic justice and fairness and basic family economics. There are no equal pay police! Women are working more today because they have to. Pay discrimination not only robs women, it robs their husbands and families. Believe it or not, this affects men too, for if they hold a job predominantly held by women they are also victims of pay discrimination, often receiving a lower wage which means lower pension and lower social security benefits.
The day will come when Schockman and others like him may have to fight a discrimination case. I pray the moment they voted “no” for equal pay comes back to haunt them.