Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Milwaukee's Forgotten War On Women

In 1996, the Pay Equity Law was passed.  At that time, women earned 73.8 cents for every dollar earned by men.  Sixteen years later, a large gap remains, and women are earning only 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

This reminded me of Milwaukee's forgotten war on women, especially working women.

A few years ago, the City of Milwaukee was compelled to hold a referendum on paid sick leaves through direct legislation.  Some 40,000 Milwaukeeans signed a petition looking for this law.  There was a lot of reasons to pass the referendum.

Sadly, there were opponents, like the MMAC, who opposed anything that might cut into their profit margin.  They even had the local paper, who is headed by a member of MMAC, pound against it, even though they failed to be open about this fact.  Even more disappointing is that Mayor Tom Barrett also strongly and vocally opposed the people's will, saying that the bill should not be allowed to happen.

The referendum passed with a huge, lopsided 69% of the vote.

With no sense of decency, MMAC filed a lawsuit to prevent the people's will from being enacted, and won an injunction.  The people had filed for an appeal.  During the fight, Barrett continued to oppose the law.  But before it was resolved, Scott Walker passed a law preventing any community from passing a paid sick leave mandate.

We've got a longer road, and more obstacles to overcome, before we can say that we're anywhere near equality.

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