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Walker Kills Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law

Governor Scott Walker

Scott Walker must really hate being governor of Wisconsin. That’s the only explanation for what he pulled Thursday. He quietly signed a law that repeals Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act.

The Act was created in 2009 to allow Wisconsinites a way to fight pay discrimination at a lower cost and more quickly than through the Federal Court system. As slow as the Federal Courts were with civil cases in 2009, it has gotten much worse since then. The Senate Republicans filibustered all appointments of judges to the Federal bench, making the courts desperately short of judges. In the past, when Senator Jesse Helms stopped all of President Clinton’s appointments, Chief Justice William Rehnquist publicly took Helms to task for creating a crisis in the Judiciary. Our current Chief Justice, John Roberts, can’t be bothered to fulfill his role as the administrator of the Federal Courts and push the Senate to approve the appointments. He puts party politics over his obligation to the judiciary.

This bill doesn’t remove the possibility of a person suing over pay discrimination, it just makes it harder. It hits women in Wisconsin more than minorities. Nationally, women earn 77% of what men do in identical jobs. In Wisconsin, it’s 75%. Remember the movie Nine to Five, when Lily Tomlin’s character complains about a man getting promoted over her and she’s told “he has a family” and she has four kids to support? That’s what is at stake here. More and more, women are either the main wage earner in a family or the only wage earner. When they are paid less, it hurts their families.

But, the Equal Pay Enforcement Act is much loved by corporations. They don’t want to pay their female employees any more than they have to, and in retail, hospitality and health care, women make up the majority of a company’s employees. And Scott Walker is a company man. Whatever corporations want, corporations get from Walker, and the Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, the Fitzgerald brothers, Jeff and Scott.

Jeff Fitzgerald is a candidate for the Republican ticket for Wisconsin’s open United States Senate seat. Killing the EPEA might sit well with the Republican base, but it will be a weakness if he wins the primary (he is polling at half the numbers of former Governor Tommy Thompson) and has to face Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November.

Baldwin must be dancing a jig over this latest assault by Walker on labor rights. This on hurts women and Baldwin can really play to that in the Senate race.

As for Walker himself….well, its hard to understand his thought processes. No intelligent politician, facing an election of any kind, attacks a particular voting block so openly and blatantly. Walker was supposed to be the perfect Republican governor, a rising star in the party. Instead he has turned into one of the Democratic Party’s best assets – a man who didn’t know how to keep the people from looking behind the curtain and seeing the little man instead of the great Wizard.

One last note from Wisconsin….Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, she of the screwed up elections, has stepped down from her post.  About bloody time.

 

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