President signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act: government now respects women and workers

In a ceremony rich with symbolism, President Barack Obama signed into law The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act on January 29, 2009. In front of a cheering throng who applauded enthusiastically when Ledbetter was introduced, the President said, “This is a wonderful day. It is fitting that the very first bill that I sign is The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.”

The president described the Act as, “upholding one of this nation’s founding principles that we are all created equal and we each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.”

The president effusively praised the woman whose fight led to this day. “Lilly Ledbetter did not set out to be a trailblazer or household name. Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. But…she decided there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. Her fight took us to this day. It is the story of women still earning 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Today in 2009, countless women are still losing countless income….”

He continues, “Signing this bill today sends a clear message that making our economy work is to make sure that it works for everybody. It is not just unfair or illegal, it’s bad for business. Today I sign this bill not just in her honor, but for women who came before; women like my grandmother who worked in a bank…and for my daughters and all those who come after us so that there are no limits to there dreams.”

Ledbetter demonstrates the power of the grassroots to bring change from the bottom up. It is that power that will lead to a similar signing ceremony for the Employee Free Choice Act allowing workers to freely organize to improve their lives.

“This grandmother from Alabama kept fighting because she was thinking about the next generation. This bill is an important step. A simple fix. Thank you Lilly Ledbetter.”

It is not yet time for a “Mission Accomplished” banner, but we are finally moving in the right direction.

About the AuthorRon Moore is a freelance writer living in Silver Spring, Maryland with decades of service in the grassroots community as a local union president, union organizer, national AFL-CIO staff, and writer for the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

This article originally appeared in the Washington DC Examiner on January 29, 2009. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.