>Western Tribune Column January 14 2009

>This sort of fits right in with yesterday’s post, huh?

Column

On Friday the House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, named after the Alabama employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber who discovered her male colleagues were being compensated better than her.

She discovered this near the end of her 20 year career, but federal law’s statute of limitations would not allow her to challenge that discrepancy. The current law gives a six month period from the time the employer decides to pay a female less. The new law would allow the six month period to begin when the employee finds out.

Anyone with a clear mind can see that the current law does not make sense. There is no way an employee can be expected to know when an employer decides to offer male co-workers better pay. Most people don’t know what their co-workers make. And it’s not the employees fault if she doesn’t discover the difference in pay within six months of the change.

In Alabama Democrats are happy to have elected Bobby Bright of Montgomery and Parker Griffith of Huntsville to join Artur Davis, who represents most of us in Bessemer, in congress. Democrats have a history of advocacy for equality for women.

But Griffith and Bright both voted against the measure, along with a strong majority of Republicans.

They must be “Red Dog” rather than “Blue Dog” Democrats.

What message does this send to women in their districts, and in the rest of the state?

It’s hard to believe in this day and time that men who could not be elected without support of women would vote against equal pay.

Lilly Ledbetter, in the meantime, is preparing for a train ride. She will be among those riding with Barack Obama on his east coast whistle stop tour that delivers him to his inauguration.

“Not bad for an ol’ Alabama girl,” she said.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama called Ledbetter to invite her to the inauguration.

She said she’s “excited because this new president is not going to forget what it’s like to work your way up and he’s keeping people from all walks of life involved.”

A lot of people are excited about the president elect. In Birmingham, the excitement will be manifest with a $50,000 party to which the world media is invited.

I wonder what the world will think of the Birmingham of 2009.

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