A picture of Representative Marcy Kaptur
Marcy K.
Democrat OH 9

About Rep. Marcy
  • Equal Opportunity in America

    by Representative Marcy Kaptur

    Posted on 2014-01-14

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    KAPTUR. Thank you, Congressman Garamendi. Thank you for bringing us together as you so often do. We are so fortunate that you are here and bringing us together as voices from the heart of America here in our Nation's Capital to talk about what is on the minds of the vast majority of the American people, and that relates to their family life, how they are going to survive in this economy.



    In listening to the statistics that Congresswomen Schakowsky and Hahn were relating, what has happened to family life in this country, because many times if you read articles, you see families can't hold it together. Why? Because of money, because of their inability to hold the household together because the jobs just vaporized. And when you have trade deficits for 30 years in our country, and we have an average of 15 factories closing every day, jobs vaporize. It doesn't matter where you live--whether it is Ohio, California, Florida, New York--American people have felt directly the impact of this global economy, and many times they can't hold the social unit of the family together.

    Many, many of the women who are supporting their children now have done so because of fallout in the economy. What you say about the gender pay gap is absolutely there.

    I was very surprised to learn in Ohio, as a result of a study done by Progress Ohio, that, in fact, one of the major companies, I think the largest company in our country, Walmart, employs about 4,500 people in Ohio. And of their employees, those employees that work for minimum wage, or probably less if they are part-time, they apply for food stamps, for SNAP assistance. So they are trying to support their families. Just those in Ohio are using $23 million in Federal food support because they can't earn enough to feed their families. And this type of corporate behavior is repeated over and over and over again, so essentially what is happening is the Federal Government ends up subsidizing low wages because the workers can't earn enough to support their families.

    I am fortunate enough to come from a working class family. Our mother worked; our grandmother worked. Thank God for Franklin Roosevelt, because I think what our family has lived represents the story of a vast numbers of Americans.

    Our grandmother could hardly speak English. She worked in hotels, in kitchens, peeling carrots and potatoes and so forth, washing dishes, paid the immigrant workers the very least. And then her husband always out of work, taking in tenants in their home. And they lived in 13 different places because they could never manage to own anything, trying to just hold it together with a sick daughter and a husband who often lost his job. So that was Grandma on one side of the family.

    Then our mother, who became the sole support of her parents--and five children in that family--working at age 13, going across town to clean homes and so forth, it wasn't until the Democrats under Roosevelt passed the minimum wage that she began earning something more than she earned before.

    Do you know what happened in the first place she worked, which was a little luncheonette on Broadway in Toledo, Ohio? When the minimum wage was passed initially, her boss, who wasn't such a nice guy, would cash her check and then pocket the difference between what she used to earn and what she then earned in the workplace. That was before we had the Department of Labor fully developed and we had inspectors on the job and so forth.

    This is what American working women have dealt with for generations. And so I have to say, I am so proud I am standing on the shoulders of families like my own to be a voice for these women and these families whose economic struggle is excruciating. It is excruciating. Many of them don't have cars.

    Our own mother, she was brilliant. She should be here, not me. She never got her high school equivalency until after she went on Social Security. And there were two things she had in her billfold when she died. One was her library card because she was brilliant, but the other one was her Social Security and Medicare card--because of Democrats. Because of Democrats, she could die with dignity.

    I think about the families across this country, and I am so proud to be a voice for them here. I want to thank you very much for standing up for a raise in the minimum wage so that people who are struggling out there don't have to be on food stamps and EBT coupons because they are trying to earn their way forward. They should earn a decent wage, that working family life, paid sick leave.

    I took care of our mother when she was ill. I know how hard it was to try to work and to care for someone who was so ill.

    I just left a funeral home over the weekend in Ohio where a former county engineer, George Wilson, lost his beautiful wife, Pat, to Alzheimer's. And what were you saying, Congressman Garamendi, what this took for that family and that working daughter to try to hold everything together. It is such a cruel illness. So any help for caregivers across this country, for making caregiving a profession where you earn a decent wage, however we figure out how to do that, we are going to need it in the coming years.

    {time} 1815 So I support my colleagues in their efforts to raise the minimum wage, to close the gender pay gap, to make sure that there is paid leave, to make sure that we work as a society to find ways to care for those who are ill. I know that with men such as yourself and those who are on the floor this evening, and with women who have now been educated and able to fully participate in this society and to express the needs from coast-to-coast, we will change this country for the better.

    Thank you so very much for coming down here this evening. I agree with you that when women succeed, America succeeds, but we can't do it without our men.

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