Friday April 15, 2011
“Citizens across Wisconsin” Win Award for
Defending Workers’ Rights, Fair Pay
State Sen. Lena Taylor Accepts Award in Washington, DC
WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) today awarded Citizens across Wisconsin with its annual Winn Newman award for “defending public workers’ rights – the root of fair pay.”
Sen. Lena Taylor, representing Wisconsin’s 4th Senate district, accepted the award on behalf of the state’s citizens at a ceremony held at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, DC. Taylor was among the state’s 14 Democratic senators who left the state earlier this year in an effort to slow down deliberations on a bill to strip public employees of their bargaining rights.
Taylor also helped enact changes to the state’s fair employment law in 2009. This Act improved remedies for victims of workplace discrimination, including state equal pay violations, by allowing compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to back pay.
In addition to the action by state senators, Wisconsin citizens engaged in weeks of non-violent protest at the State Capitol and in cities and towns across the state. A broad array of citizens -- communities of faith, small business owners, students, and farmers -- joined union members in the protests.
In presenting the award, NCPE Board of Directors member Carolyn York lauded Taylor and her fellow Wisconsinites for their courageous response to Gov. Scott Walker’s draconian budget bill. “The citizens of Wisconsin stood up loud and strong for the values of open government, fair play, and rights in the workplace. And they are an inspiration to all who believe in justice. At NCPE we know that workplace rights are at the root of fair pay.”
Michele Leber, Chair of NCPE, said, “NCPE applauds Wisconsin citizens who rose up to defend the rights of unions, which have been significant in narrowing the gender wage gap.
Leber added, “Today, women make only 77 cents for every dollar men make, an improvement over the 59 cents women made when NCPE was founded. But more progress is urgently needed to help today’s struggling families, and a critical next step is to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.” This legislation strengthens and updates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by allowing victims of discrimination to win full compensatory and punitive damages and prohibiting punishment against those who share salary information with co-workers.
Taylor formerly served as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing and is in her fourth session on the powerful budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance.
The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), founded in 1979, is a coalition of women's and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity. The Winn Newman award is presented annually by NCPE to the individual or group that has done the most to further the cause of pay equity in the previous year. The award is named for the late Winn Newman, an advocate and litigator on behalf of pay equity, who was the lead counsel of the AFSCME v. Washington case, resulting in a large pay equity settlement for state employees.