Equal Opportunity in Americaby Representative John Garamendi
Posted on 2014-01-14
GARAMENDI. Mr. Speaker, it is good to be back on the floor once
again as we have for most every week to talk about jobs in America, to
talk about the unemployed, to talk about those who are less fortunate
and those who need a strong Federal program to create jobs.
I often start with this because it is kind of the compass, the touchstone of what, at least, I would like to think we ought to be doing.
This is from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This is actually on one of the marble slabs at his memorial here in Washington, D.C. It reads this way: The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
All across America today there are far too many that have too little. A couple of weeks ago, I did a jobs fair in Fairfield, California. It was about 38 degrees outside that day, and we had just under 1,000 people come to that jobs fair--there were about 50 employers--and maybe 50-70 people actually got jobs.
This is a picture of the men and women that were lined up waiting to get in to have a very quick interview with one or more of those 50 potential employers.
I have used this photo before here on the floor to point out the need for a jobs program here in America. The President 2 years ago in his State of the Union put forth a proposal. It had several elements--and we will probably cover some of those today--but it has not been enacted. The Republican leadership in this House has refused to pass even one of those jobs programs. There was infrastructure, education, reeducation; there were programs to provide for the opportunity for men and women to get jobs here in the United States.
But I was looking at this photo just today and I said, I am going to use this again, because in this photo approximately half of the people lined up, 1,000, just under 1,000 were women. It caused me to think about another program that the Democratic minority here in the House has been working on for some time, that is, the issue of women in the American economy.
I know that in my own district there is this issue of equal pay for equal work. A woman doing stenography work next to a man doing stenography work would be paid 85 cents while the man is paid $1. So it is 85 cents when a man would have the same job, same skill set, same tenure, would get $1. That is wrong. It is one of the issues we want to address.
Also we know that many of the women that are searching for work here are going to be finding minimum-wage jobs. Now, California is different. We have already passed a minimum-wage law in California that in another year and a half will be $10 plus a little. But the national is still at $7-plus; way, way under what anybody working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year could possibly support a family on. So the minimum wage is another issue for women, as it is for men; but I dare say more so for women than for men.
There is a multitude of issues that we need to consider as we talk about jobs, employment, increasing the employment opportunities in the United States for these people; men and women, and particularly women, that are lined up wanting to get a job.
Joining me tonight is an extraordinary group of people who have been working on this issue of women and jobs, employment, equal employment opportunities, daycare, family care programs.
I would like to start with Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who has been one of the leaders throughout this entire Nation, often seen on television speaking to this issue and the issue of opportunity in America.
Jan, would you care to start us off on this 1-hour and talking about women and jobs.