Updated June 3, 2014
Standing Up for Social Justice
At the May National Council meeting, three resolutions that build on Equity’s strong social justice foundation were presented by the National Public Policy Committee and passed.
The resolutions addressed issues that are in the national consciousness — equal pay for women, ending employment discrimination against LGBT workers and opposing voter suppression and strengthening voting rights.
In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, it required all employers to pay men and women equally of equal work. Though the pay gap has slowly been decreasing, there is still a 23 cent wage difference between men and woman today (an even wider gap exists for minority women in the U.S.).
Congress has introduced a few pieces of legislation to help combat pay inequality, such as The Paycheck Fairness Act (which aids workers when fighting wage discrimination) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act (which removes the barriers from the infamous Wal-Mart v. Dukes that stunted employees’ rights to bring class-action suits under antidiscrimination laws.
With this legislation and other government measures to protect and enhance equal pay, the NPPC proposed the following to the Council:
“Move that Actor’s Equity Association support legislative efforts to end wage discrimination and to further strengthen laws that make it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to women, including supporting measures as the Paycheck Fairness Act, strengthening remedies and class-action procedures under the Equal Pay Act, and supporting similar such legislation.”
When it comes to ending employment discrimination against LGBT workers, congress has passed laws to protect individuals from discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibits any employer from discriminating anyone based on their “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
Congress also passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (which means that anyone employee over the age of 40 is protected with various employment attributes) and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (prohibiting employers from discriminating against anyone with a disability). Still, Congress has not created a law that protects employee discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
For this issue, the committee recommended to Council the following:
“Move that Actors’ Equity Association support ending employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or other similar legislation.”
Recently, several states have passed voter I.D. and suppression laws, which limits access to the polls and makes it difficult for people (specifically, elderly, minorities and young voters) to vote.
The NPPC pitched the following resolution to council:
“Move that Actors’ Equity Association support efforts to make our voting system free, fair and accessible to all Americans by, among other things, (1) eliminating laws that limit access to the polls; (2) supporting same-day registration, early voting, no-fault absentee voting and other such modernization efforts; and (3) supporting campaign finance reform efforts that promote integrity and fairness in our democracy.”
“I am so proud that Equity’s elected leadership continues to build on the union’s historical support of social justice issues,” said Mary McColl, AEA Executive Director. “These resolutions, which speak out in support of pay equity for women, ending employment discrimination against LGBT workers and working to strike down voter suppression laws to ensure that all Americans can vote, puts us yet again on the right side of history.”