Feldman and Weinstein: "Congress needs to recognize the reality that women continue to earn less for doing the same work, and to act to end this injustice once and for all."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7, 2014 - In anticipation of an upcoming vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84), Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, and Barbara Weinstein Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, sent the following letter to Senators urging their support of this crucial legislation.
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose over 900 congregations across North America include 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism, which represents over 65,000 Reform Jewish women, we strongly urge you to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84). This bill would mitigate deep-rooted gender-based wage discrimination by supplementing the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages.
In a country such as ours that places great stock in the concept that hard work leads to success, paying women less than their male counterparts signals that their work is worth less, that they are worth less. In fact, women, on average, continue to make 77 cents on every dollar their male counterparts make, but it is even worse for women of color. African American women make approximately 64 cents on the dollar, and for Hispanic women, it is 54 cents. This persistent, offensive discrimination is unacceptable. We can and should do better for American women and their families.
American women are the primary or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of households. As such, wage discrimination is not only financially damaging for women, but it also affects families across the country. It hinders their ability to make ends meet and violates our nations highest ideals of fairness and the ability of each individual to reach their goals through hard work. Congress needs to recognize the reality that women continue to earn less for doing the same work, and to act to end this injustice once and for all. The Reform Jewish Movement has long championed the fundamental equality between men and women, and our tradition teaches us the importance of dignity of work and fair compensation. Leviticus 19:13 instructs, 'You shall not defraud your neighbor,' and in Deuteronomy we learn, 'You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer,' but you must 'pay him his wages on the same day, for he is needy and urgently depends on it' (24:14-15). These biblical lessons and our values as Jews and as Americans call us to speak out against gender-based wage discrimination, and in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
We applaud the Senate for considering this important legislation, and we ask that you vote in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84). Pay inequity is an affront to us as Americans and as Reform Jews committed to equality and justice for all people.
Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman
Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism