Pelavin: "Pay equity is a moral issue, one in which our religious beliefs in the fundamental equality between men and women and the dignity of work and fair compensation guide and strengthen our voices."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 12, 2011 -- In recognition of Equal Pay Day, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent the following letter to Congress, urging members to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was re-introduced today:
Dear Member of Congress,
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose more than 900 congregations encompass over 1.5 million Reform Jews across North America and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis, we urge you to defend the rights of women by co-sponsoring the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was re-introduced today.
Today is Equal Pay Day, when a woman's wages finally catch up to what her male counterpart earned the previous year. With each passing year, Equal Pay Day creeps slowly closer to the beginning of the year, yet the pace of improvement remains too slow. Although the Equal Pay Act was passed nearly 50 years ago, women workers earn only 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by male workers, according to the National Women's Law Center.
Existing law provides fewer legal rights for victims of gender-based pay discrimination than for victims of discrimination on the basis of race, religion or disability. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House in January 2009 with a strong bipartisan majority, would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide equivalent safeguards for women as for other victims of pay discrimination.
Pay equity is a moral issue, one in which our religious beliefs in the fundamental equality between men and women and the dignity of work and fair compensation guide and strengthen our voices. We are taught, "You shall not defraud your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:13). The current system defrauds women by paying them lower wages for the same work performed by men with similar credentials and making it difficult for those women to effectively fight back. All workers deserve to be paid fairly for the job they perform, regardless of gender.
More than ever, families rely on women's paychecks, with almost 40% of women acting as the primary breadwinners in their households. We strongly urge you to stand up for women and co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Mark J. Pelavin