Led­bet­ter visit high­lights the need for con­tin­ued lead­er­ship on equal pay

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

Last week­end, I had the plea­sure of at­tend­ing the Chester County Demo­cratic Women’s Lead­er­ship Ini­tia­tive’s Fall Gala with Lilly Led­bet­ter. Meet­ing Ms. Led­bet­ter and hear­ing her in­spi­ra­tional story about her fight against Goodyear for fair com­pen­sa­tion and the cre­ation of the Lilly Led­bet­ter Fair Pay Act was a true honor. Her visit also high­lighted the fact that the fight for equal pay for equal work is far from over.

I sup­port equal pay for equal work. The pay dis­par­ity be­tween men and women is a na­tional dis­grace, as is the fact that this is still a po­lit­i­cal is­sue at all, much less a con­tentious one.

I served in the Army to up­hold and pro­tect the fun­da­men­tal Amer­i­can val­ues of fair­ness and equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity. Pay in­equal­ity it­self, along with the un­will­ing­ness to take de­ci­sive ac­tion to ad­dress this is­sue, is an af­front to those val­ues.

As the fa­ther of two daugh­ters, pay in­equal­ity makes me con­cerned for their fu­ture. I know that my daugh­ters are as smart, strong and ca­pa­ble as any­one, and I want to know that they will be fairly and equally com­pen­sated when they grow up and build ca­reers, fam­i­lies and lives of their own.

In Congress, I will be an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for equal pay. I will do this be­cause it is the right thing to do and be­cause it is the Amer­i­can thing to do. I will do it be­cause I want to fight for my daugh­ters and for your daugh­ters. This is the very least we should ex­pect out of our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of La­bor, in 2015, full time work­ing women made up al­most 47 per­cent of Amer­ica’s work­force, yet they re­ceived only 79 cents for ev­ery dol­lar earned by men, a gen­der wage gap of 21 per­cent. As you read this, the Pay­check Fair­ness Act has been in­tro­duced in both the House and the Se­nate. Un­for­tu­nately, it ap­pears that stand­ing up for an idea as fun­da­men­tally Amer­i­can as equal pay is some­how a par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal is­sue.

The House ver­sion of the bill cur­rently has 193 co-spon­sors, but my op­po­nent, Ryan Costello is not among them. In fact, only one co-spon­sor out of the 193 is a Repub­li­can. This demon­strates that many of our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, like my op­po­nent, are blinded by par­ti­san­ship and out of touch with the peo­ple they rep­re­sent.

How Mr. Costello can claim to be bi-par­ti­san, in­de­pen­dent, and to rep­re­sent the val­ues of our com­mu­nity, yet fail to lead in sup­port­ing equal pay for our wives, moth­ers, grandmothers, aunts, daugh­ters and neigh­bors de­fies ra­tio­nal ex­pla­na­tion. Sadly, he is once again play­ing fol­low the leader and fall­ing in be­hind his party bosses. He has done this time and again, in­clud­ing when he de­cided to put party be­fore coun­try by blindly sup­port­ing Don­ald Trump.

The par­ti­san talk­ing points that this leg­is­la­tion is some­how un­nec­es­sary sim­ply don’t hold up. The Pay­check Fair­ness Act would in­tro­duce greater trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity into pay prac­tices to en­sure that em­ploy­ers are not dis­crim­i­nat­ing on the ba­sis of gen­der, and in­crease the abil­ity to en­force the ex­ist­ing laws that for­bid such in­equal­ity.

Pay equal­ity has been the law of the land since 1963, be­cause this is an is­sue on which the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans have agreed for gen­er­a­tions. Tak­ing steps to make that law en­force­able is sim­ple com­mon sense. In our mil­i­tary, our of­fi­cers and en­listed mem­bers are paid based up their rank and time in ser­vice with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of race, reli­gion, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, or gen­der. This is the way that peo­ple should be com­pen­sated, fairly and equally.

In Congress, I will con­tinue my com­mit­ment to serve our com­mu­nity, our coun­try and the Amer­i­can peo­ple by proudly and vig­or­ously sup­port­ing equal pay. I will do this to pave the way to the brighter fu­ture my daugh­ters and all Amer­i­can women de­serve. My op­po­nent’s fail­ure to lead on this is­sue is an em­bar­rass­ment to all of us. We can do bet­ter.

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