The Paycheck Fairness Act: A Victory in Closing the Wage Gap

This is Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. I have had the honor of serving the people of the Third Congressional District of Connecticut for the past 18 years.

In the coming months I hope to engage in conversations with you about issues facing our country and what we are doing in Washington to help improve our country. Before I talk about the Paycheck Fairness Act, I just want to say that I have been blessed to serve the Third Congressional District for the past 18 years. I appreciate your continued support and do not take your support lightly.

For more than a decade, I have been fighting to ensure that women receive equal pay from their employers. When President Kennedy's Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, Women were earning 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. To this day women are still just earning 77 cents per dollar earned by a man. This wage disparity between men and women costs women anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over a lifetime.

By now all of you in the blogosphere are familiar with the case of Lilly Ledbetter, -- the woman whose pay discrimination case against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Roberts Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Ms. Ledbetter needed to file a complaint within 180 days of her first pay discrepancy to be awarded damages.

In Ms. Ledbetter's testimony before the Education and Labor Committee she said, "Goodyear acknowledged that it was paying me a lot less than the men doing the same work... So, I was actually earning twenty-percent less than the lowest paid male supervisor in the same position... What happened to me is not only an insult to my dignity, but it had real consequences for my ability to care for my family. Every paycheck I received, I got less than what I was entitled under the law."

The Ledbetter case highlighted the loopholes in the current law and the need to close them. On Thursday July 31st, the House of Representatives took the next step to correct this injustice by passing H.R. 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act by a vote of 247-178. This vote was about ensuring that women who work hard and productively and carry a full range of family responsibilities are paid at a rate they are entitled. So many employers and companies do the right thing as a matter of course, but passing this bill says that this is now a matter of right and wrong, that discrimination is unacceptable anywhere and we are all diminished when we fall short. We have the chance to make all men and women whole and contribute to the richness of America.

Of my 18 years in Congress, this was one of the most rewarding victories I have experienced in this remarkable institution. With your help in electing Barack Obama as our next President, I hope to enjoy many more days like we did when we passed the Paycheck Fairness Act in the years ahead.

For more information on me and my positions, feel free to visit my website I look forward to talking with you more in the coming months.