Citizens of Wisconsin Win Pay Equity AwardApril 20, 2011
Last Friday was an exciting day, as I was fortunate enough to attend the National Committee on Pay Equity’s presentation of the Winn Newman Award. Named for a civil rights and labor lawyer who fought gender- and race-based salary discrimination throughout his life, the award is presented annually to the group or individual who has done the most to further the cause of pay equity in the past year. This year’s recipients, near and dear to my heart, were the citizens of Wisconsin.
As a proud Wisconsinite myself, I could not agree more with the committee’s decision to honor the hundreds of thousands of people who came out to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill, which eliminated public workers’ collective bargaining rights (a measure he admitted last week does nothing to curb the budget).
I was especially pleased to see state Sen. Lena Taylor a determined advocate for workers’ rights who represents Milwaukee, accepting the award on behalf of the state. As an undergraduate, I had the privilege of interning for Taylor’s campaign for Milwaukee County Executive (against Walker, ironically enough). The senator’s passion for her community and use of politics to create positive change are truly inspiring, and she has served as an amazing role model, motivating me to go into the field of public policy.
In accepting the award, Taylor spoke about Wisconsin’s long history of activism on behalf of labor and women’s rights but also noted the work left to be done. Of the approximately 1,000 state senators Wisconsin has elected, Taylor is only the 20th woman and fifth African American to hold that position. Looking to the future, Taylor asserted, “We will continue to fight. This is beyond workers’ and unions’ rights — this is about democracy. … This is about whether people, over corporations, will have a voice.” Judging by the array of citizens continuing to protest and take political action, Wisconsin citizens are making sure their voices are heard.
This post was written by AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations Fellow Emily Krueger.