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Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012

Issue of the Week: Republicans' War on Working Women

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As part of Republicans' ongoing war on women, both houses of the Republican-controlled state Legislature have voted to repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, passed by Democrats in 2009.

The Republicans' new bill will make it easier for employers to pay women less than their male counterparts by making it more difficult to sue those unethical employers.

How this will help Gov. Scott Walker make good on his promise to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term is a mystery.

Nevertheless, Republicans once again turned their backs on Wisconsin women—and the men and children who depend on the paychecks earned by those women—while doing the bidding of companies who illegally exploit their workers.

The soon-to-be-repealed Equal Pay Enforcement Act was passed for a very good reason. According to data from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS), in 2009 a Wisconsin woman earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The median average salary of a working Wisconsin man in 2009 was $37,400. But a working Wisconsin woman only earned $30,200 annually in 2009. Some, but certainly not all, of this wage gap is due to different levels of employment and education. But if the disparity in wages is due to an employer illegally discriminating against female employees, then the affected employee should have the right to sue.

Democrats have called on Walker to veto this bill as soon as it hits his desk. They're right. If Walker truly wants to help working Wisconsinites, he should ensure that they are paid fairly and equally and not protect businesses that illegally discriminate.

Heroes of the Week
: VA Medical Center Volunteers

The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (5000 W. National Ave.) provides health care, rehabilitation and other vital services to members of the armed forces. Nearly 900 volunteers play a critical role in these programs, including the Veterans Creative Arts Competition.

Like other VA facilities around the country, the Zablocki Center incorporates creative arts into its recreation therapy programs. This annual competition recognizes progress and recovery made through that therapy, and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our nation's veterans.

The public is invited to show its support by attending one of two live performances (2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) on Monday, March 5, in the third-floor Recreation Hall. Winning participants will advance to a national competition later this year.

Readers interested in volunteering their time to help local veterans are encouraged to call 414-384-2000 ext. 41803 or visit www.milwaukee.va.gov.

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