Monday, April 21, 2008

EQUAL PAY DAY and NYS LEGISLATION

In my April 12 blog I promised to let you know what happened to the motion to bring the NYS Fair Pay Act out of the NYS Senate Labor Committee. First information about the Act and Pay Inequities.

1. The NYS Fair Pat Act would provide Equal Pay for Equal Work.
Did you know:
*About 50% of American women live without a spouse which demolishes the myth that women need less money because they have “someone to lean on.”
*Higher education isn’t protection from pay inequities, though it increases annual incomes. NY women with professional degrees earn 67% of what their male counterparts earn!
*Over a working lifetime, wage disparity costs $700,000 to $2 million in lost wages, impacting families every day, but also Social Security benefits and pensions.
*AAUW’s research publication Behind the Pay Gap has facts documenting sex discrimination
2. The NYS Fair Pay Act would provide Freedom of speech in regard to salaries. How can pay inequities be claimed without knowledge of what others are earning. Without proof there is no case. Now giving wage information can result in retribution including being fired
3. The Assembly has passed the NYS Fair Pay Act every year since 2002.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS INCLUDING ACTION ON THE MOTION

April 2, 2008, Gloria Steinem Day for Equal Pay in Albany. About 200 supporters of Equal Pay came to hear Steinem and legislators speak. On April 4, Senator Craig Johnson, sponsor of the NYS Fair Pay Act in the Senate, instituted action to require the Senate to vote on bringing the Act out of the Labor Committee and on to the floor. The vote was set for April 14. On that date only 10 members of the senate majority appeared. It was defeated. However this pressure, enhanced by your messages of concern, has made them aware that Pay Equity is an issue of concern to voters. As Irene Liu says "No politician wants to be accused of not supporting equal pay for women and minorities"

In April, before the Senate vote to bring the NYS Fair Pay Act out of the Labor Committee, The Senate Majority and Senator Robach, Chair of that committee, fast tracked a bill through the Senate that calls for an Equal Pay study. There are already many equal pay reports available. This political cover bill passed 62-0.

The Senate Majority then told the press that they had passed Pay Equity legislation. These Senators seem to have a gross misunderstanding of what Pay Equity is. We need to let them know how misinformed they are.

We in AAUW know that the NYS Fair Pay Act with its provisions for equal pay for comparable work with freedom of speech regarding salaries will bring TRUE PAY EQUITY to NYS. We will continue our efforts to bring this bill to the floor to be voted upon.

Nancy Mion

Friday, April 18, 2008

MODERN DAY SLAVERY

A Human Trafficking Conference, Modern Day Slavery, sponsored and organized by the North Shore Branch of AAUW, was held today, April 17, 2008 at New York Institute of Technology. Information about human trafficking, federal legislation enacted and upcoming and the plight of child prostitutes in NYS were discussed, This is an issues in which AAUW NYS has been concerned for several years and has passed a resolution to support legislation on behalf of those trafficked.

Did you know that 800,000 humans are trafficked across international borders annually and that millions are held as slaves within countries? These are large figures but each number added is a person who has lost everything. They leave their homes because they believe they will have a chance for a better life, actually they become people without an identity or a country. Their funds are illegally seized as are their passports and paper. They are brutalized, isolated and subjected to inhuman treatment and more. They become slaves without any rights, or hopes of escape. Human Trafficking is the third largest money maker worldwide for Organized Crime after drugs and arms. The product, a human, cost nothing and can be resold many times which brings in more money. Restriction on borders between nations has lessened making moving trafficked humans easier this reduces the risk of traffickers being caught. Trafficking is a new phenomenon; it has grown in the last decade to immense proportions.

The UN developed a Convention and a protocol regarding Trafficking. It is now international law. The same year the US Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which provided services and T-visas for victims, penalties for traffickers and sanctions against nations that are not curtailing satisfactorily their trafficking. This act will expire this year. It needs to be renewed. H.R. 3887 The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act would make it easier to prosecute traffickers by removing the requirement that prosecutors prove fraud, force or coercion and higher penalties if a minor is involved. This bill passed the House and now is awaiting a US Senate sponsor. Congresswoman Mahoney has introduced H.R. 3424 which would authorize funds for the IRS to prosecute sex trafficker for violations of tax laws.

NYS passed strong Anti-Trafficking last June, one of the best in the nation. AAUW helped secure passage of this vital law that went into effect November 1, 2007. It provides access to social services and strong penalties for traffickers. However, the law failed to address, children 16 and younger in NYS, who, though born here, are the victims of sex trafficking.

Child prostitution is domestic trafficking in its most insidious form. These children are charged as Juvenile Delinquents and incarcerated. They are really victims of domestic Human Trafficking and need to be rehabilitated, given their childhood back. The average age is 14. There are believed to be between 500.000 and 10 million annually. This sex industry has a monetary value of $14-20 million. Society is in a state of denial that these children are trafficked. They have runaway from abusive deprived homes. They arrive in bigger cities, are vulnerable and easy targets for traffickers. The chances of a child being sexually exploited are greater than the risk of death by firearms, accident, homicides and suicides.

Two weeks ago the NYS Senate passed the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Act (S6746). It provides that children under 16 picked up for prostitution be provided social services. It provides strong penalties for those who exploit and rape these children. The Act has been passed to the NYS Assembly. If you are a NYS resident please contact Speaker Sheldon Silver and Keith Wright, Chair of the Social Services Committee and ask them both to take action on this Act. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FAIR PAY BILL IN NY-DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

Gloria Steinem Day for Equal Pay (discussed in an April 2, 2008 AAUWNY blog)was held in Albany NY April 2, 2008. Its purpose was to pressure the NYS Senate to act on the NYS Fair Pay Bill, which was passed in the NYS Assembly, and has been held in the Senate Labor Committee. A Press Conference was held and articles about Fair Pay legislation appeared across the state.

Did it work?
On April 3 a motion was made, by a senator, to have the Senate vote on bringing the NYS Fair Pay Bill out of Committee so that the Bill can be discussed and voted upon by the Senate. The vote will be on Tuesday, April 14.

The NYS Fair Pay Bill would provide equal pay for equal work and freedom of speech regarding salaries for men, women and people of color. AAUW NYS has been actively working, in coalition with like minded organizations to secure passage of this Bill. About 2600 members of our AAUW e-groups across the state have been urged to call their NYS Senators. If you live in NYS please join us in contacting your senator. I’ll let you know next week what happened.

Nancy M.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Children and What Matters

As part of AAUW's ongoing commitment to education about public policy issues which affect women and girls, AAUW New York State is a member of several coalitions which support our values. One of them, Every Child Matters has recently published a study of the welfare of children in all fifty states at www.everychildmatters.org.

It shows that New York ranks at 36 of the 50 states is overall child health and welfare. We are not above average. More than 20% of our two-year-olds are not immunized. 43% are not enrolled in pre-K, and 31% of our fourth-graders score below minimum levels in reading.

At the same time voters rank children's issues third in overall importance well above lowering taxes. 82% of American voters believe that every child should be covered by a federal health care policy if the parents cannot otherwise afford health care. Even 64% of "conservatives" support this.

If children's issues are so important, why don't we do better? Why is education funding equity in NYS still in jeopardy? It is easy to blame the economy or the forces of evil. But is it in part because we have not told our leaders how we feel? Have you written or called your representatives lately?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Voting and STEM

Just out from www.aauw.org is a new Woman to Woman Voter Turnout Manual. Women tend to be "drop-out" voters, more so than men. Apparently we have a hard time learning to show up for every election. We also have a hard time making ourselves heard on issues. (I did not say that we are never heard.) Persuading more women to vote while not excluding men is good place to start. Even more resources are available at the Woman-to Woman Voter Turnout website.

AAUW has also released a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) position paper and resource page. The position paper is available as www.aauw.org then to the STEM issues web page.

Happy hunting.
We would be happy to have you join us to work on these issues at www.aauw-nys.org.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gloria Steinem Day

Between 200 and 300 people by my estimate, AAUW members among them, gathered in the well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany today to hear Gloria Steinem and state leaders working for pay equity speak on pending legislation that would level the paying field for women.

What Ms. Steinem said: Professions have been valued by the social value of the worker not the value of the work.
During World War II to discourage strikes, jobs were classified and similar jobs were given similar salary schedules. Then all those jobs where women predominated had their salaries reduced by one-third resulting in scales where the best-paid women earned less than the worst paid men.
(among other cogent words--these are the one I got down)

What the legislation would do:
  • Provide that those employed in job titles where women and people of color predominate receive equal pay for equal work.
  • Grant employees freedom of speech regarding salaries by making it unlawful to discharge an employee for disclosing or discussing wages
Bill number: S3936

Why: At the present rate of progress, women will achieve salary parity with men in 96 years. We need to make faster progress than that. Women can not know if they are suffering discrimination if they do not know what others are paid. The pay gap in New York places us at 36 among the 50 states. New York is not a leader in this area.

What AAUW NY has done: Pay equity has been one of our chief public policy targets this year along with family friendly work place policies. Many branches have Equal Pay Day events in April. We have joined with others in the New York Pay Equity Coalition. Our public policy director, Nancy Mion, has kept us abreast of the issue, especially those on the public policy e-list.

What you can do: Write your state senator now. The Assembly has passed this legislation every year for six years. Visit your state senator in his office and take friends with you. It does not need to be a large group, but if they represent groups that support this legislation, it strengthens your impact.

To learn more contact public-policy@aauw-nys.org or president@aauw-nys.org or NYSPEC at haigner@nycap.rr.com or 518-464-0991 or Women on the Job at wojtf@optonline.net