Archive | January 2014

President Obama Calls For Equal Pay For Equal Work

Serious Computer Users

Yesterday, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stated that “…Women deserve equal pay for equal work… Deserves to have a baby without sacrificing — job. A mother deserves — day off. …” The President Obama says it’s time to do away with “Mad Men” era policies. Equal pay for equal work is a simple matter of fairness.

Almost five years ago, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, with Lilly Ledbetter, who suffered twenty (20) years of pay discrimination. Data indicates that working women in the United States are paid an average of eighty (80) cents for every dollar paid to men. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The pay gap is even larger for most women of color; on average, black women earn about seventy (70) cents, and Latinas about sixty (60) cents, of every dollar paid to all men. Our daughters and granddaughters should know that they’ll enter the workforce as equals to their male counterparts. But it’s going to take a real effort to get this done.

The Equal Pay Act, the law that was supposed to make equal pay for equal work a reality, is in bad shape. That’s why right now, the people from all around the country are picking up their telephones to take action– and you can join them. Call the White House comment line and urge the President to get the ball rolling on closing the wage gap by prohibiting federal contractors from punishing or firing workers who talk about their salaries with co-workers. This action from the President would address one piece of the Paycheck Fairness Act and protect nearly a quarter of the federal civilian workforce despite congressional gridlock.

President Kennedy called the Equal Pay Act “a first step” to ending the widespread practice of paying women less than men for the same amount of work. And that’s exactly what it was: a first step. 50 years later, we’re still fighting this fight, and women STILL make 23 cents less on the dollar. House Democrats have proposed a solution — the Paycheck Fairness Act — but Republicans voted to block this legislation from even coming to a vote. That is unacceptable.

In 1996, Equal Pay Day was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. For the past thirty-two (32) years, the National Committee on Pay Equity has been working diligently to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.

In 1979, the National Committee on Pay Equity was founded as 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.

When the Equal Pay Act passed nearly 50 years ago, a woman earned an average of 59 cents for every dollar a man made. Today, she makes 77 cents. The annual gap between men and women’s median annual wages is a staggering $10,849. With more and more families relying on women’s wages to support them in an ailing economy, shortchanging women nearly $11,000 a year is inexcusable.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is an important step in the continuing struggle for women’s rights. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would take several steps towards closing the wage gap, including: clarifying acceptable reasons for differences in pay between men and women; prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage policies and their pay rates; making it easier to file class action lawsuits based on equal pay; and requiring the EEOC to survey current pay data and obliging employers to submit pay data identified by race, sex and national origin of employees.

Action Needed:
Help 9 to 5 and other advocacy organizations to make this very necessary change: Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to support and sign on to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Women have waited too long for equal wages. We, as a nation, cannot afford to wait any longer. —9 to 5

Fair Pay Act of 2013 – Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin. (Allows payment of different wages under seniority systems, merit systems, systems that measure earnings by quantity or quality of production, or differentials based on bona fide factors that the employer demonstrates are job-related or further legitimate business interests.)
Prohibits the discharge of, or any other discrimination against, an individual for opposing any act or practice made unlawful by this Act, or for assisting in an investigation or proceeding under it.

Directs courts, in any action brought under this Act for violation of such prohibition, to allow expert fees as part of the costs awarded to prevailing plaintiffs. Allows any such action to be maintained as a class action. Directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to:
(1) undertake studies and provide information and technical assistance to employers, labor organizations, and the general public concerning effective means available to implement this Act; and (2) carry on a continuing program of research, education, and technical assistance with specified components related to the purposes of this Act. Makes conforming amendments relating to congressional and executive branch employees to the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 and the Presidential and Executive Office Accountability Act.

Source(s): ABC NEWS. Wikipedia. 9 to 5. The National Committee on Pay Equity. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Action Alert

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Improve Access to Affordable Housing for Veterans

safety at home

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 62,619 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. About 1.4 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing. Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Upendra J. Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset) and Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) was signed into law on Monday that makes affordable housing more accessible to New Jersey veterans.

The new law (S-829/A-1744) allows municipalities to enter into agreements with developers to provide affordable housing occupancy preferences of up to 50 percent of the affordable units in a particular project for low to moderate income veterans who served in time of war or other emergency.
Current New Jersey law does not extend affordable housing preferences to low to moderate income veterans. Under the bill, any agreement to provide affordable housing preferences for veterans will not affect a municipality’s ability to get credit for the unit from COAH. As of December 2011, nearly one in seven homeless adults are veterans, according to the Center for American Progress.

Source: Politicker New Jersey, Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress; Housing and Urban Development, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress: Veterans and Homelessness; Libby Perl; February 2012, Homeless Incidence and Risk Factors for Becoming Homeless in Veterans; VA Office of Inspector General; May 2012, The 2012 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, Volume 1 of the 2012 Point-in-Time Annual Homeless Assessment Report; Housing and Urban Development

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

A Call to Action: Help Actualize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream


“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it…”—–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for racial equality and an end to discrimination from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. In his “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. King wrote, “…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character….”.

Dr. King inspired millions across the world with the delivery of his famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The monumental event and the organizing that followed helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act – legislation that helped reshape our country and the economy.

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech was delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters, the speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century by a 1999 poll of scholars of public address. Dr. King opened his speech by saying “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” But in the words of Dr. King on that historic day 50 years ago, “…1963 is not the end, but a beginning…” Enormous strides have been made but much work remains to be done to actualize Dr. King’s dream.

We saw the end of Jim Crow. We have seen African Americans, Latinos, women, and others gain access to jobs and education they were previously denied. In 1963, 42 percent of African Americans lived below the poverty line. In 2011,the percentage African Americans that lived below the poverty line dropped to 27 percent. But we are NOT done yet.

In 2014, there is a growing gap of inequality in this country. In 1963, the unemployment rate for black Americans was 10.9 percent; for whites, it was 5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for black Americans is 14 percent; for whites, it is 6.6 percent. With that being said, more African Americans are unemployed today than they were when Rev. King issued his clarion call for jobs and justice.

While Black unemployment remains disproportionately high, the right-wing legislators are readying themselves to fight for more cuts to the social safety net when Congress resumes next month. And, despite evidence of widespread, coordinated attacks on voter freedom, two months ago the US Supreme Court gutted key protections of the Voting Rights Act, the signature achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. As previously stated, though we have come a long way, we still have so much work left to do. These modern injustices demand a modern approach to racial justice organizing.

As Congress debates the federal budget and whether or not to raise the minimum wage, we need to make sure they are doing all they can to create jobs and grow the middle class. EVERYONE deserves an opportunity to succeed.

This year, make your greatest demonstration of freedom—- your vote. Take action that can and will change the future. If you are not already registered, get registered to vote. Seize the opportunity to cast your vote.

For the past two years, hard won voting rights have been under attack throughout the country. Although court wins in 2012 in the states of Florida, Texas, and Ohio have turned back some of these efforts, other challenges remain and much education and outreach is needed to overcoming the damage that remains from laws enacted precisely for the purpose of making it much harder for millions to register and vote.

As was aptly stated by President Johnson when discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”

Each election day, vote and take a friend with you to help them exercise their right to determine the destiny of our nation. Your vote can be decisive, stand up, speak out, be heard— cast your vote! Let freedom ring in 2014.

Sources: CBS News. Christian Science Monitor. Wikipedia. 9-5 Action Alert. 50th Anniversary March on Washington website. FAIR SHARE Action Alert. Brainy Quotes website.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

National Day of Service: Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Soup Kitchen

“….An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity…” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each January, countless people across the nation honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a Day of Service. Join volunteers across our nation giving countless community service hours as Dr. King’s legacy continues to empower individuals to eradicate injustice.

Each year, volunteers of all ages come together to address problems through service projects that help strengthen our community. Having witnessed how budget cuts potentially threaten the non-profit sector, my aim with this post is to raise awareness of the importance of volunteerism and deepen service engagement by children, youth, and families. Investing individual time and talent is an excellent way to keep the spirit of Dr. King alive. There are countless volunteer opportunities in our community that would be both family-friendly and allow for completion in shorter blocks of time.

Consider volunteering on the upcoming national Day of Service held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Join hundreds of thousands volunteers across the country giving countless hours as Dr. King’s legacy continues to empower individuals to eradicate injustice.

“….Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals….” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Source(s): Brainy Quotes website.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.

Nichelle Mitchem Discusses the Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

children walking to school

Child witnesses to domestic violence often have life-long effects. Please read the data below regarding chid witnesses to domestic violence.

•Between 3.3 million and 25 million children experience domestic violence in their homes each year.
•The average age of a homeless person in the U.S. is 9 years old. 50 percent of homeless women and children are
fleeing abuse in the home.
•Children who live in homes where their mothers are battered are 50% more likely to be beaten themselves. Research indicates that 50 to 70 percent of men who physically abuse their wives also frequently abuse their children.
•In one study, 27% of domestic homicide victims were children. When children are killed during a domestic dispute, 90% are under age 10; 56% are under age 2. Children from homes where their mothers is beaten suffer eating and sleeping disorders, have headaches, ulcers, rashes, depression, and anxiety caused by the trauma of witnessing abuse.
•They have a higher risk of abusing substances and becoming juvenile delinquents.
•Eighty percent of teen runaways and homeless youth come from violent homes.
•Girls from homes with domestic violence are 6.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted and more likely to become pregnant as teenagers.
•A boy from a home where his mother is battered is 74% more likely to commit violence, including rape.
•Boys who grow up in non-violent homes have one chance in 400 of becoming abusive adults, but boys who grow up in violent homes have one chance in two of becoming abusive adults.
•Sixty-three percent of boys ages 11-20 arrested for homicide have killed their mother’s abuser.

How are children affected by domestic violence?
•They exhibit “failure to thrive” symptoms, even as infants.
•They may exhibit “general aggressiveness” or violence to siblings or the
“victim parent” in ways that emulate the abusive parent.
•They may exhibit a pattern of “over-compliance” and fearfulness.
•They often suffer from low self-esteem.
•They often suffer poor health.
•They may have poor impulse control.
•They often experience academic problems.
•They live frequently ”disrupted lives” when the victim is forced to flee the home.
•They, along with their mothers, comprise nearly 40% of the homeless population in the U.S.
•They are sometimes injured during violent incidents in the home or the family
•They are more often abducted by the abuser parent than other children.
•They may have a fear and distrust of close relationships.
•They may become conflicted in taking sides with parents.
•They experience confusion over correct behavior.
•They experience psychosomatic complaints, i.e., stomachaches, headaches, stuttering, anxiety, fear, etc.
•They experience “night terrors” (waking up screaming in the night).
•They may wet the bed.
•They kill themselves more often than children who do not live with abuse.
•They are likely to repeat learned behaviors.
•They blame themselves for the violence or the inability to stop it and protect the victim parent.
•They often experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
•They are more likely to be victim of child physical and sexual abuse, most often by the abuser parent and less often by the victim.
•They are four times as likely to be arrested eventually.
•They are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.
•They are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior.
•They are more likely to commit crime against other persons and sexual assaults.


Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2014

Scared Child

An estimated twenty-seven (27) million people are trafficked globally on an annual basis, the largest percentage being women and children. This year, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is being recognized on January 11, 2014 in the United States. Human trafficking denigrates the values of human life, exposes victim to serious health risks, endangers the mental well-being of victims and impedes the ability of victims to reach their full potential. With that being said, faith based organizations are calling upon Americans to become more aware of the millions who are victimized by trafficking – and more involved in finding ways to stop it.

The U. S. Government recently reported that eight hundred thousand (800,000) people are trafficked across international borders each year; eighty (80) percent of them are female and almost half are minors. This figure does not include the millions who are trafficked into labor and sexual slavery within national borders. It has been reported that human trafficking is growing in the crime industry, second in scope only to the drug trade and equal to arms. Data indicates that revenue from human trafficking is estimated at more than thirty-two (32) billion dollars annually. The issue of human trafficking is increasingly urgent.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Source(s): Human Trafficking Awareness Day events, by Colleen Dunne, National Catholic Reporter, January 8, 2014. National Council of Churches. The U.S. State Department, “Trafficking in Person Report”, June 2007.

Help Protect Voting Rights

vote button

“…Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed…”. —–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Voting is a cherished right. Countless brave people gave up their lives to secure that right. Federal law guarantees it. There have been reports across the country of efforts being made to shrink the pool of Americans who will be able to vote in the years ahead. In thirty-eight (38) states and counting, strict new voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting and Sunday voting, and racially motivated bans on ex-felons have either been passed or proposed.

As was aptly stated by President Johnson when discussing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” With that knowledge, yesterday, tens of thousands of people rallied at the Stand for Freedom mobilization in New York City to stand up against the forces trying to block the right to vote for millions. The persons in attendance at that event understand that, if we, as citizens, do not take action to stop restrictions on voting, no one will.

Voting is the one right that practically defines a democracy. The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of the United States Constitution. Nonetheless, during periods of history in America, millions of this nation’s citizens were denied this most precious right based on an immutable characteristic such as race. In the century following Reconstruction, African-Americans in the South faced overwhelming obstacles to vote. Despite the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which had enfranchised black men and women, southern voter registration boards used poll taxes, literacy tests, and other bureaucratic impediments to deny African-Americans their legal rights. Southern blacks also risked harassment, intimidation, economic reprisals, and physical violence when they tried to register or vote. Elsewhere, other minorities also suffered this type of discrimination. As a result, African-Americans and other people of color had little if any political power, either locally or nationally. It took the courageous civil rights movement to put an end to this discrimination.

In response voter discrimination, the Voting Rights Act was adopted initially in 1965 and extended in 1970, 1975, 1982, and 2006. The Act made it a federal crime to deny a citizen the right to vote. It outlawed a number of tricks and schemes used for decades to disenfranchise African-Americans. No longer could racists in state governments use literacy tests, poll taxes, and other devices to keep African-Americans from registering to vote. The Voting Rights Act also allowed the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections in places where discrimination occurred. The Act has been described by Irving Bernstein as “a rare and glittering moment in the history of American democracy.”

The Voting Rights Act has often been referred to as the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress. The Voting Rights Act codifies and effectuates the 15th Amendment’s permanent guarantee that, throughout the nation, no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color. In addition, the Act contains several special provisions that impose even more stringent requirements in certain jurisdictions throughout the country.

Voting is a cherished right. Now, it’s up to each of us to protect the right to vote and to make our vote count.

Source(s): US Department of Justice. NAACP. Stand For Freedom. Brainy Quotes website.