Barack Obama made many promises to the American people in the two years he campaigned to become the 44th President of the United States. He kept one of those promises Jan. 29 when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in a televised ceremony.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising.org, who was in the audience, repeated the famous words, "it's been a long time coming," in praising the new federal law that gives employees the right to seek redress if they learn that they have been discriminated against in pay because of their gender, race or ethnicity.President Obama said at the bill's signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House, "It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign ... we are upholding one of this nation's first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness. If we stay focused, as Lilly did - and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did - we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.""To watch (the President) sign a bill that bears my name - the bill that will help women and others fight pay discrimination in the workplace - is truly overwhelming," Ledbetter said."I did not learn of the pay discrimination until late in my career," Ledbetter, a former employee with Goodyear Tire and Rubber, said during an interview with CNN. "Someone left me an anonymous note in my mailbox at work showing my pay versus three males. And we four were doing the exact same job."Ledbetter retired after working 19 years for Goodyear in Gadsden, Ala. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 1998, alleging that men in her plant doing similar work were paid 15 to 40 percent more.Records proved that Ledbetter was being paid $6,000 less than men doing the same work.EEOC and a jury ruled in Ledbetter's favor and she was awarded $360,000 in back pay. A federal appeals court later threw out her claim."Goodyear will never have to pay me what it cheated me out of. In fact, I will never see a cent from my case. But with the president's signature today, I have an even richer reward. I know that my daughter and granddaughters ... will have a better deal. That's what makes this fight worth fighting."With this win, Ledbetter concluded to a rousing ovation, "We will make a big difference in the real world."The 150,000 members of MomsRising.org from across the United States worked hard to help pass the Ledbetter legislation, Rowe-Finkbeiner said in her statement to the press. MomsRising, org is an online grassroots organization that is working for paid family leave, flexible work options, excellent childcare and health care for all children, and to stop the wage and hiring biases that penalize so many mothers today.