Social Question

ro_in_motion's avatar

Today is Equal Pay Day in the US. Does anyone not support it?

Asked by ro_in_motion (2238 points ) April 17th, 2012

I really want to hear from those who dissent with the following: [Quoting from Senator Al Franklin]

“It’s incredible to think that, in the year 2012, we still live in a country where women get paid less than men for the same work.

That’s what Equal Pay Day is meant to symbolize. To earn what men did in 2011 alone, women would have had to keep working all the way until today—an extra four and a half months.

This is, of course, profoundly unfair. And it boggles my mind that some people are willing to ignore this injustice—not to mention its consequences. After all, if you’re a single mother, equal pay isn’t just about your rights as a woman—it’s about your ability to provide for your family.

The same thing happened during the recent fight over birth control, when a lot of politicians proved that they don’t know how contraception works or how expensive it can be. That fight was about both a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and her ability to stay well without having to pay $100 or more every month for contraception.

I always think that future generations will look back and wonder how we let so much inequality happen in this country for so long. And it makes me remember that this generation has a duty to erase as much of it as we can while we’re here.”

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70 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Why would anyone not support it?

syz's avatar

Apparently Romney does not, since he does not appear to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

And as nikipedia mentions, apparently not Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, either.

JLeslie's avatar

Everyone supports it, except maybe employers who want to get away with paying less if they can I guess.

@syz The representative for Romney simply did not know the answer to the question, it does not imply whether Gov. Romney supports or doesn’t support it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Many people don’t support it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Don’t support equal pay? Or, don’t support the Lilly Ledbetter act?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie People don’t support equal pay. With a straight face. They say it’s because women have babies and take time off work so it’s all about ‘objective’ facts and what makes more sense for those good old ‘employers.’

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think of that circumstance as being related to women not being hired, promoted, or given pregnancy leave, but not related to equal pay. I believe you, just not something I have heard.

Ron_C's avatar

It turns out that the neocons don’t want a law to insure that men and women get equal pay for equal jobs. They believe that it is only the employer’s prerogative to determine salaries. Government has no business writing rules for business or even taxing them.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Well they say it can’t be equal pay because they simply spend less time at work when someone else (a disposable woman or you know, the creature with testicles) could do that work.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir If they do less work they should get less pay, that would be equal. It is the assumption they will do less work that is annoying of course. I still would think that would wind up impacting whether the company hires women, more than salary. And, I don’t like slave driving jobs that require 60 hours a week +, with little flexibility in work hours when there could be, but that is another topic.

wundayatta's avatar

I think people support equal pay for equal work. However, leaving work to take care of a family makes a person less valuable at work, whether a man or a woman does it. Women tend to do it more, though. Also, women tend to prefer jobs that involve fewer hours so they can spend more time at home. That’s why you’ll find more women are Dermatologists and fewer are heart surgeons.

Now if a male dermatologist working the same hours with the same years of experience was making more than a woman with the same qualities, I would hope that Romney would have a problem with that. However, I hope that women would not have a problem with a man who works twice as many hours and has seen twice as many patients earning more than the woman who does not have the same qualities.

I have heard that economists who take things into account such as hours worked and tenure in the position and all that find that women make a much higher portion of what men make than the traditional 72 cents on the dollar (or whatever it is) that does not take these things into account. I’m not sure what it gets up to—maybe something in the 90s. Which means there is still an unexplained wage gap, but it isn’t as large as the gap a lot of people point to.

The wage gap in my life has always gone the other way around. I’ve generally made around a half of what my partner makes. Sometimes as much as sixty percent of what she makes. She has to quit working outside the home for me to make more than she does.

How do we explain this? Market failure? The kind of work they do? My decision to do certain kinds of work where no one makes a lot of money? Or should we not try to explain it and say that I’m a guy; I should make as much as my wife does. Yeah. My employer will go for that, big time. [Rolls eyes].

I don’t buy the pay gap numbers. I think there’s a pay gap, but it’s not nearly as big as it seems when you account for the impact of the kinds of employment choices women make compared to the ones men make.

I don’t think there should be a pay gap, though. Women should get equal pay for equal work. But determining what equal work is—that’s not so easy.

nikipedia's avatar

@wundayatta, I agree that the pay gap is misrepresented—women are not being paid substantially less for identical work, although they are paid less, and that is still problematic. But more problematic is the reality that if couples want to have children, the expectation remains that women will have an expendable career, and minimal accommodations need to be made by the employer for her to have a child and still have a job.

Qingu's avatar

If the market doesn’t want to pay woman the same amount for the same work as men, surely the market is right.

Who are we mere mortals to question the wisdom of the divine invisible hand of the market? Does a piece of clay ask questions of a potter?

JLeslie's avatar

Does it give women an advantage? If businesses actually pay women less, then that is a better hire for the bottom line of the business.

syz's avatar

self edit

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta women tend to prefer jobs that involve fewer hours so they can spend more time at home. – I’m not so sure. I hear a lot of women saying that if the job had daycare, or they were earning as much as their male partner in the first place, or their male partner was willing to help out more around home or get flexible hours, they’d spend more time at work. Some women certainly do prefer to spend more time at home, but others prefer it because life hasn’t handed them any more attractive options. And a lot of women would love to be heart surgeons, but just have a limit for how much chauvinism they can handle every single day.

As to what the pay gap is, when accounting for all those other factors, is at least 5%. But, I’m not so sure that if we got that number down to zero, but then women still had trouble getting paid maternity leave (and enough of it), still had to take time off for childcare, all that stuff, it’d be much of a win. Making it so that women can be in the workforce as much as they really want to, because they have support as mothers, is a huge part we shouldn’t discount.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Just a reminder for everyone – women of color have it hardest. Black women make 69 cents for every $1 made by white men; Hispanic women make just $.59.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed If everything was really equal we could argue for parent leave (after the woman is recovered from the birthing pricess obviously). Also, men could take the lesser paying jobs, and women can be in the more high powered time consuming ones. Actually, if a woman goes to medical school, most likely she can afford daycare. I don’t think women stay out of medicine anymore because of a good ol’ boy system. Some professions I would agree, stockbroker is one, but most professions the gender divisions are dissappearing, especially the intimidation from the opposite gender.

If we fight for women to have certain exceptions at work, then we are kind of saying women are more of a liability in a way. I don’t agree that women are a liability of course. I believe they want to work, want to do a good job, and sometimes are more focused when working, especially when they are a primary breadwinner for their family. I want work places to be more flexible period for men and women. Be more focused on work getting done rather than what time of day it is done. But, it is true women still to some extent pick lower paying jobs. We definitely could look at some of those jobs and say the salaries should be increased. Part of the reason they are lower paid is probably because they were traditionally occupied by women. I also see in many many families around me the women work part time or not at all to be with their children more during the day. They are the more likely to let go of their career for a while, because their career generally pays less, but not because they are paid less than their male counterpart. Even if the man is paid half what his wife makes, he is not likely to stay home and take care of the kids full time. Society expects him to work to be a good man, and his ego and identity are wrapped up in that.

ro_in_motion's avatar

Part of the issue is that employers still suffer patriarchal biases. Some companies have enabled paternity leave so there’s equity (or at least more equity) in time spent with a new child.

However, the issue is (quoting from Sen. Franken), ” To earn what men did in 2011 alone, women would have had to keep working all the way until today—an extra four and a half months.”

That’s every woman in the workforce. You can’t explain this based on maternity leave. This happens because companies can get away with it. It is wrong and morally disgusting. Doubly so since, I believe, more women are graduating college than men.

Again, the statistic is: Men earn $X in 12 months. Women earn $X in 16.5 months. It isn’t about maternity. It isn’t about women being less skilled. It isn’t because women need more time off. It’s because they aren’t being paid an equal wage.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve heard at least 3 female doctors say that just becoming a doctor was hard enough, and they didn’t want to make it any harder, so that’s why they do so much breast surgery. There was a fairly big post a few weeks ago about why a female engineer no longer encourages young girls to become engineers (spoiler alert: it’s the sexism).

Some professions were actually higher-paying before women dominated them. Like, being a secretary or teacher used to pay a lot, lot more, and then it became a path for women, and the waged took a plunge.

So, we stop defining a good man as one who always goes to work and refuses to stay home.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed It does not surprise me that wages change as women begin to dominate a profession. I also believe there are some professions that women feel “odd man out.”

What did you mean by your last sentence?

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I have to say, I found that post by the female engineer, um, not very good. I was expecting a better argument and I’ve heard horror stories of sexism in male-dominated industries, but that just read like she was bored with the industry and its direction more than anything to do with sexism (the brief discussion of quotas aside).

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu But, the direction of the industry is that it isn’t diverse, which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the hiring was diverse. I think that was her point.

@JLeslie I mean, if we (both as individual women and as a larger society) stopped telling men that how they preform masculinity is by having a job and being a breadwinner, then they don’t feel this need to always be away from the family. Saying “I want to be with a man who’s identity wouldn’t take a huge hit if he became a SAHD” changes things.

wundayatta's avatar

You’re not going to find me fighting against greater maternity leave. My wife got three months of maternity leave twice, and still some people would think she took too much or too little time off. I got a week of “paternity” leave, which I had to take from my vacation time.

I think my wife was a beneficiary of her economic power. She’s an attorney and she was able to find work for companies that provide maternity leave and in-house emergency daycare and other family friendly policies. When her firm was eventually bought out by a company that scuttled these policies, she “retired.” Which is to say, she quit, but she’s old enough now to qualify for retirement. She’s been 38 long enough, now.

I’d say she made maybe three-fifths of the family income. I suppose I could look it up, but I’m not sure I really want to know. I don’t know if she would have made more if she had been male. I think she did pretty well, but part of me believes she got screwed a bit by her employers. I believe she worked harder than a man would have worked. I kept on telling her not to, but she didn’t feel like she could cut back. I also don’t know if she got the raises she should have.

Still, it seems like women can have the economic power to negotiate with companies. Certainly, highly educated women can. Companies do pay attention to who is doing a good job. Although some don’t. A lot do.

I think it is important to keep these issues in mind. I think it is important to advocate for yourself at work, and to advocate collectively, as well. I think change is happening and that it is good for men as well as women. In fact, I don’t think women are taking over nearly quickly enough in one way. In another, well, I do believe that male unemployment is a good deal higher than female. Employers like a cheaper, more educated workforce.

There’s a lot going on here. A lot of interesting trends. It’s not as simple as it looks.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I see. Well, I am not inclined to support that idea. In fact, we are trying to push the idea lately that good men support their families and take responsibility for their children. I would like if men did not have so much of their identity wrapped up in their career, but the opposite of that is destructive to society I think.

JLeslie's avatar

There have been studies showing women are less likely to ask for more money. It is oartly our personality that seems to help this all along. We could say the employer should reward employees for what they are worth period, but there is a little bit of game and negotiation in the process usually.

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I saw her main point as being the tech industry bores her. I don’t think that’s related to its male dominance. And it’s a leap to assume that it would be less boring if only more women worked there. Are women inherently less interested in hour-long tech demos than men, and in leading tech-centric nonsocial lifestyles than men are?

I’m just nitpicking though. It does suck that the industry is male-dominated.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu See, I kind of assumed that, on a blog called “Women and Tech”, where she keeps mentioning women and men (not, people), and sexism, that that’s part of what she’s trying to say. If it was just, I as a person think the tech industry is boring, then it would be “why I’ve stopped telling young children to go into engineering”, not “girls”, and there wouldn’t be all this focus on being a woman.

@JLeslie We can push the idea that good men take care of their family without saying that the only viable way for them to do that is to be breadwinners. We can say that it’s just as valid to have a career-oriented female partner who’s a breadwinner, and you’re the SAHD. We can say that it’s just as valid for the father to be the one picking a job with flexible hours, so that he can leave early and pick the kids up from school, and then do a couple more hours of work at home. We can say that it’s important that the family have financial security, but that it doesn’t matter how that happens, or which gender does it. We can make it so that men start saying, “Hi, I’m Joe, a father”, not, “Hi, I’m Joe, a computer engineer”.

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, I just sort of resent the idea that the parts she finds boring exist because of a male point of view. I’m a guy; I hate tech demos too. (Though I don’t like socializing, because I also hate people). Maybe this is an uncharitable reading, but here is what I interpreted her saying:

“I’m getting sick of the tech industry because they are too focused on showing off tech in boring demos and priming for acquisitions rather than being innovative, and they live in a bubble. The reason for this focus is because of men.”

I mean, that’s sexist.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I think things have moved in that direction. I guess we could even say as men start staying home more, possibly the acknowledgement and dignity of the at home parent would go up, since it seems men receive more respect when in a specific career. “Woman’s work” still has a negative overtone, but honestly I almost never hear that expression anymore.

But, I am still reluctant. What can I say. I think couples work together to figure out what is best for their family. It can change throughout the relationship as each has different highs and lows in their careers, or one simply desires to be home with the children. Most women I know would not mind at allbeing the one who earns more, as long as they feel their husband is a hard worker as well. Whether it be supporting her, making her life easier in other aspects, or him contributing to the earnings of their household. I have many friends and people I have worked with where the wife made more than the husband. Sometimes it was for a few years, sometimes it was the entire marriage.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu You do understand the difference between “male” and “male-dominated”, right? Because her post came across to me as “They don’t hire anyone but the exact same (white, hetero, cis) males. Then, as a result of having such a homogeneous pool of people to pick from, there are no new ideas, and an ever increasingly narrowing focus. The problem is the lack of options, the lack of diversity, the tokenism instead of substantiative change. If these guys aren’t doing it for me, then there’s no where else I can turn to, no other options. Also, I have to deal with all this other sexist bullshit (that you Qingu seem to have rather neatly swept to the side…), so on the whole, this job really isn’t fulfilling enough that I feel like I should be encouraging other girls to go into it.”

There’s no way to ever change gender inequality if anytime a woman says that male domination sucks, people accuse it of being sexist. There’s nothing wrong with being male. There is something horribly wrong with male being the only, or near only, option.

bkcunningham's avatar

How do we know the difference in pay between men and women everyone is discussing on this thread? I’m not saying the numbers are wrong. I’m just curious how we know, for instance the figures that you gave @Aethelflaed, “Black women make 69 cents for every $1 made by white men; Hispanic women make just $.59.” Do the figures represent the US only, all industries, all occupations, an average? Where did you get those numbers and how did the source derive those figures?

wundayatta's avatar

It is possible for the man to have the flexible job. I always managed to. So I was the one picking up the children and taking them to the doctor or staying home when they were sick (well, my wife couldn’t actually bear that, so she stayed home half the time). And I did all the shopping and cooking. She made more money.

None of this ever bothered me except that I never knew if anyone looked down on me because I wasn’t a traditional male. Still, no one ever said anything, so if it did bother them, then I never heard about it. Certainly, it didn’t bother my wife, and she’s the one that counts.

We can look at the numbers and averages about pay, but I’m not sure if that tells us what we need to do. We can see the gap, but seeing the gap doesn’t tell us how to fix it. Nor does it really tell us what the reasons are for the gap.

I’m sure some policies will help. More support for daycare. Universal health insurance. Other policies that Republicans will hate (in case we were wondering about the gender gap). But I think that in the end it comes down to individuals and what we all do in our personal lives; how we all negotiate these things with our domestic partners and with our employers.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@bkcunningham Most of the information comes from the US Census Bureau, which is able to cross-reference its information with information submitted to the IRS.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@bkcunningham You can start with the Wikipedia page, which talks about the difference between the adjusted and unadjusted wage gap. The WoC stuff comes from here (and you can Google black women 69 cents and find others).

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham @Aethelflaed I think the problem with some of the stats regarding race is the south generally has lower wages, and black people live in the south more than other parts of the country. Even if we look at one industry, unless we look only at one state, the stats could be skewed. The links also talk about education level, comparing people with a higher education to those without is not apples to apples. Also, if they are new immigrants, or first generation, it is an unfair comparison to white people who have been here generations in my opinion.

@wundayatta Nobody I know would be critical of your role as a man, husband or parent. Being involved with the children is a positive, and it seems you having flexibility helped your wife pursue the career she wanted, and from what I cam tell you are interested in your line of work as well. A certain synergy there. It also kind of reinforces the idea that it is easier if one parent can be flexible in their schedule. What do you think?

Qingu's avatar

@Aethelflaed, again, I don’t want to make too strong of a disagreement because I agree with her basic points, that diversity in a workplace is important, that having a homogenous all-male workplace often results in a lack of diversity. I just think her argument could be better made.

I’m also not going to cut her slack because of the nature of her argument. You seem to be suggesting that it’s wrong to criticize arguments for gender inequality because it has the effect of shouting down people who want gender equality. Well, sorry, but I criticize everything.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ll vouch for that.

JLeslie's avatar

Hahaha. That is what I like about @Qingu.

bkcunningham's avatar

Me too. It makes him sexy… in a S&M kinda way.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu I’m not saying it’s wrong to criticize her argument; if I thought that, I’d spend less time hanging out with feminists. I’m saying that always knee-jerk reacting with “woman accuses some men somewhere of acting sexist; shows her own misandry” makes any kind of forward movement impossible. I would agree with you that her focus needs a lot of work.

@JLeslie Know why we point out that woc statistic? Because everyone has race, even white women. It’s important to make sure that “woman” doesn’t secretly, invisibly, insidiously mean “white woman”, and to affirm that woc are every bit as much women as white women. Women of color look at those 77 cent statistics and think “these don’t reflect my life. They have no meaning. Those are White Lady statistics”, and they’re correct.

woodcutter's avatar

The only way it could happen would be if all companies agreed to drop the mens pay down to match the ladies then everything would be fair. It’s a win win. The co’s. increase their bottom line and both sexes are the same pay wise. It wouldn’t make very many families happy but it could work.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I have no problem evaluating stats by race, ethnicity, education level, and however else we can come up with. I think it is good to look at the numbers many different ways. I was just explaining why some of the stats might be for reasons not necessarily thought of. Also, the WOC stat seems to be measured against all men. Shouldn’t we also look at it measured against men of color? If what I suggest has some validity, region of the country, or how recently they came to the country, then comparing them to all men, which would be mostly white men, seems a little unfair.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie The statistic I used pretty clearly compares them to white men only, thus shining a light on how gender and race can combine to really drop wages.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I must have skimmed too fast, I should have looked at it again before my last post. Do you think that is a fair statisic? Don’t get me wrong, I think it is informative, but I think there needs to be many more statisics to really get a valid picture of the situation.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@JLeslie I think there are many more statistics doing just that. If you google it, I’m sure you can find some to your liking.

Aethelflaed's avatar

“In most common occupations women still make less than men doing the same job for an equal amount of hours, according to new data released on Tuesday.

Overall they earn 77 cents for each dollar made annually by men and in some professions such as financial managers the number drops to 66 cents.

“These gender wage gaps are not about women choosing to work less than men – the analysis is comparing apples to apples, men and women who all work full time – and we see that across 40 common occupations, men nearly always earn more than women,” said Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), a non-profit research organization.” (Reuters, a few hours ago)

bkcunningham's avatar

From the information supplied and the very, very quick reading I’ve been doing on the stats and studies on the stats, @JLeslie, there are experts and studies who don’t agree with the information, stats and methodology.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Interesting. I have lived in several states. People who work retail for instance, the pay can vary widely. When I lived in NC many made just $7—$10 an hour in sales. When I lived in southeast FL, the majority of employees made over $10, many $15—$20 an hour. Nursing assistants make anywhere from $12 to $25 an hour from what I remember, depending on the part of the country. When I lived in NC I made $16—$18 an hour working as a temp doing admin work, here in TN it pays about $12. For sure some places I have lived are much whiter than others. A friend of mine made $90k in NC as a nurse anesthetist about 10 years ago, then she moved to southeast FL and started at $120k and they bring in lunch for her every day, for the whole staff.

ro_in_motion's avatar

This is a general comment: I suggest that it’s inappropriate when statistics and their source are presented to reply “I’ve seen other numbers” without pointing to your source. I am not saying you’re wrong but how does that advance the discussion?

JLeslie's avatar

I was googling and came across this, which agress with stats my father has mentioned before (he is a sociologist) that the Asians are doing better than everyone else.

ETpro's avatar

Republicans have routinely filibustered and opposed equal pay. It’s all part of their “There’s no war on women.” initiative. It keeps women’s taxes lower.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ro_in_motion, I don’t see where that comment was made in this discussion.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro From what I understand the Lilly Ledbetter act is to do away with the statute of limitations, or change it, allowing women to sue more easily for equal pay. I would guess business owners and Republicans argue that if a woman has agreed to a certain pay for 10 years, they find it unjust that all of a sudden they can bring suit. If the woman wins, I assume she gets back pay? I don’t know for sure, just an assumption. When there is suit for not paying according to labor law people get back pay. I have seen it in companies I have worked for.

My husband has worked in compensation for years and pretty much every company he has worked for runs analysis on pay equity for minorities to make sure there is not somethng they have done that would be a red flag. It is not only to protect themselves, it was also to just make sure they were not unintentionally coming out with skewed numbers.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie That may be the praty line, but the truth is that the GOP has pushed for the window on Pay inequality suits to be so short it’s virtually impossible for a woman to even find out she’s getting hosed before the window to sue is closed. 6 weeks after she starts a job or is moved to a new position. It’s inconceivable she would be able to document a breech of equal pay in that short a time. So the effect is business as usual. And as to the theory that industry bends over backwards to do right by everyone, sorry, but the real world disagrees with that fine fantasy. Yesterday was not only tax day, it was the day when the average female employee in the US finally earned as much for her job as a male doing the same work earned. Women on average today work 1.21 years to earn what a male earns for exactly the same work in 1 year. It’s been that way or worse since women first entered the workforce..

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I did not know Republicans want it shortened to six weeks to file suit. Disgusting. I actually agree with being able to file suit long after being hired. As you say, sometimes it takes a while to know if we are getting an unfair deal, and sometimes an employee, actually most of the time, an employee needs their job. They are intimidated to rock any boats, so I say when the woman finally gets the chutzpah or ability to be able to fight she should be allowed to. I might put a limit on how far back she can get back compemsations, not sure.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie I should note that I agree that there needs to be some reasonable limit on damages unless the corporation fails to right the situation once it is brought to their attention. I own a small business. I am most definitely not anti business. I would support a limit on retroactive penalties.

ro_in_motion's avatar

Herre’s why a long limit is reasonable:

If you steal from me, I should be able to go after you regardless of when I bring my case.
If you steal from me and I only learn about it later, I should be able to go after you regardless of when I bring my case.

Companies are stealing from women. Period.

Add to this the problem of bringing a suit in a small town: word gets out. Hell, even in big towns. Your ability to get a new job can drop to zero after you bring suit.

JLeslie's avatar

@ro_in_motion Yeah, but on the other hand when someone accepts a job for a salary it is basically a contract both parties have agreed to. I realize there is often an imbalance of power, the employee usually needs to work. It would be nice if an employee realized they were underpaid if when brought to the attention of the employer they do the right thing, settle I guess, with a compromise everyone is willing to live with without going to court, most employees probably would be thrilled for the new boss or HR person to make things right going forward,that they were finally acknowledged and heard. That is what happened when I adjusted the pay for an employee of mine. Nothing to do with being a protected minority, she just had worked for the company a lot of years and made quite a bit less per hour than everyone else. I gave her a 50¢ pay increase, not waiting for review/raise time, which the employees know is basically never done. She cried in my office; she was so happy, she knew I was there to support her, cared about fairness, I had done for her what no other manager had done before. She had not asked for it to be done at that time, she would have thought it impossible, she had more complained to me about it, but I did something about it, and I should add when I asked my central office if They would approve it, they said yes immediately, it only had to be brought to their attention. I feel pretty sure at the store level almost everyone would tell her no, because that was the attitude in the store, but not with central. She still was the lowest paid, but she felt much better.

Let’s compare it to the mortgage crisis, I don’t think anyone who agreed to a loan should have part of the loan forgiven. Renegotiate the terms of the loan fine, but change the price? Do I get to change the price of my dress I bought? What I agreed to pay for it when I bought it? If I owned the shop, or the bank, would I think that was fair? Working together for a win win situation in payment, that is probably fair.

ro_in_motion's avatar

@JLeslie Very interesting! :) We certainly have a distance between us. Let’s see if I can get closer. Nothing I say below refers to your specific example.

I hate businesses that take advantage of employees. I really really do. The employer is an ongoing business with a revenue stream. Too many people who are looking for jobs are out of work and have no revenue stream. This creates a predator/prey relationship. It’s grossly unfair to the potential employee. There’s a whole field called ‘game theory’ that predicts what will happen.

I applaud companies that publish wages. It makes the game a great deal fairer and avoids taking advantage of the disadvantaged. For the same reason, I am pro-union. Currently, in America, the minimum wage is so low that it keeps people in poverty. That is blatantly wrong. A social economy should make it possible for people to have a dignified level of income.

On to the mortgage crisis: I think we might be in agreement although I am going to say something totally unlike what you said. Here’s hoping. :)

The mortgage crisis was created by the banks. They were in a position to know that the mortgages could be paid only if the economy was solid and growing. There were more than enough indicators that the economy was anything but. When the economy tanked, the banks failed.

The banks then got Congress, who was in their pockets, to do something amazing and totally disgusting. They gave – gave – the banks money with no stipulation on how to use the money. We are all too familiar with the outrageous stories of the bonuses given to the very people that created the crisis.

Since then, there have been myriad stories of banks not only illegally foreclosing on mortgages but continuing to do so long after this illegal practice was discovered. Bankers are malign, greedy thugs.

Imagine how much better it would have been to say: OK, we’ll give you the money but you have to pay for that money. For the benefit for the millions of people who were suckered into your bad mortgages, the banks had to remove $1 from their pool of mortgages due for every $.80 we give you (the difference is the interest on the money). So, we give you a trillion dollars and you have to remove a trillion dollars from the pool of mortgages you have.

Although my interest calculation might be wrong, the point remains. We simply gave a ruinous amount of money without expect anything in return. Banks did not deserve it. Especially when you consider that the banks were ready to let Chrysler fail and sell off its assets.

Finally, yes: everything is negotiable. It always has been. Whenever I hear ‘but you agreed!’, I almost always hear the ‘upper hand’ negotiator saying it. There are lots of examples to draw from. Famously, professional sports players, after a great year, will attempt to renegotiate. Almost every professional – not just athletes do the same.

And so do employers. Companies often say: ‘We had a bad year. We need to reduce pay by 20% or we close our doors.’ In my experience, small companies never publish their revenue stream or whether the executives were going to take a similar hit. They are in power, the employees are not.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, can you support the 6 weeks claim?

JLeslie's avatar

@ro_in_motion We are very close actually, but not exactly in line. i too am disgusted that employers will pay what they can get away with instead of a fair wage. For me it is a lack of adherence to the golden rule, a rule which I think if more people honored would help the country and world a lot. The employer needs to think, if I was that worker what would I want to be paid that is fair? Right now, because of the job market being so tight, many employers are squeezing their employees and I find disgusting. Overworking them, underpaying them, and the companies still having profits. And, the profit is never high enough. Why not? Why can’t they be thrilled with a reasonable profit during bad economic time and also feel good that the employees are happy, loyal, and feel justly paid.

The bad year cut the pay of lower paid employees while executive still get their salaries and even bonuses sometimes makes me absolutely sick! Do you watch Undercover Boss? Did you see the episode about the airline Frontier? That was basically what happened with them. They had employees doing a tremendous amount of work. I mean really if you can watch that episode…they should be mortified. I’ll see if it is online if you are interested in watching it. But, you talked about small companies. In a small company, if it is more like a family, then if everyone takes a cut to keep things going I think it is fine, and then hopefully as things pick up they are rewarded for theor previous sacrifice. Some big companies and small companies are good and some are bad.

As for the banks and the mortgages. There is not one bank that could have convinced me I can afford a $300,000 loan if I can’t. Telling me the payments will be low for three years and then they go up, well, why is that supposed to make me feel better, I can’t afford the higher payment, pushing it off for three years does not make me feel better. But then, I tend to be very conservative and low risk when it comes to money. Once people started feeling like the housing market would keep going up and up, once people were too cocky, well you know what they say, too good to be true. I was a realtor, I used to try to talk my clients out of taking 100% loans and other crazy risks. My boss, he used to say, “it can’t last. I keep saying that, and yet housing prices still keep going up, and I am shocked from month to month the deals that come through this office.” Eventually of course the bubble did burst.

I do blame the buyer, because if the buyer won’t take the risk on paying such a high price, then things won’t be selling so prices will come down. I also blame the lender, because they lent the money without good evidence the mortgage could be paid over the long term. Personally, and I never hear anyone else ever say this, so maybe I am crazy, I think buyers were like scouts. They bought the house to the mortgage lender could do the deal. If the house foreclosed, no problem right? I mean housing can only go up right? When the owner defaults in three years the bank can sell the property for a 30% increase. That’s how I saw it, but no one ever mentions that aspect. Of course, that is not what happened, it went the other direction 30–50% decrease in value.

Of course there was selling the notes on the secondary market also, bundling the mortgages for sale, and criminal behavior in my opinion rating the mortgages and other sketchy things that took place with that whole thing.

ro_in_motion's avatar

@JLeslie Great answer! Yes, we’re very close.

Here is the thing about mortgages: people don’t understand them. No, really. They don’t understand money markets; they don’t understand inflation; they don’t understand compound interest. Sure, some do. But speaking statistically? No, no they don’t.

Back when banks were small, it took jumping through hoops to get a mortgage. Why? Because the little banks couldn’t afford defaults. I had to prove income and stability 15 ways to Sunday to get a $20k mortgage on my first house. (I am old). During the heyday, the rubes were told to give a call and get a mortgage the same day. It was a con job.

I read every line of every mortgage I have ever signed. I had my lawyer read it. I am a scientist by training so the math wasn’t daunting.

How many people getting foreclosed on had the advantages I did? I imagine they all just signed on the dotted line. If people can’t understand the contract, how can anyone hold them to it? Given the total lack of due diligence on the part of banks, renegotiate.

The solution is to keep banks small. The solution is to say when a bank has a default rate great than a few percent at most, the Feds should be looking for how they are conning people. My contention was that they were.

Thanks for the great reply! :)

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham I cannot. I heard that on a TV news program. The current law is 2 years but this news report related to what the GOP was trying to amend it to. I tried Goggling for it with no success.

@JLeslie You write about discriminatory pay as if it is some arcane accident that employers fall into through no fault of their own. That is not the case. An employer knows what they pay each and every employee doing a given job for a given period of time. It’s not rocket science to play fair.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro The example of the employee who had low pay, that was not an example of discrimination for a protected group, it was an example of an employee who had worked there over 8 years, who they were happy to hire cheap. I agree with you, if there is example and example in a company of discrimination in pay, well, I am happy when that company is called to task, and has to back pay. In fact, any major imbalance in pay for any reason should be corrected in my mind.

But, wouldn’t you agree in business often times people leave a job because another company will pay them better, and then the original company winds up having to pay better for a new employee to replace them? This has always bothered me that companies are happy to take advantage of the long standing loyal employee. I think they know they are getting away with paying a low salary a lot of the time. Why don’t they do something? It happened to me in my career, they tried and tried to get me not to leave. Several months later I wound up being rehired by that company. My husband left for salary reasons from one company also (well, most of his moves were for higher pay, but I mean he really felt at this one place he was underpaid, especially compared to a fellow employee). They also told him not to leave. He was hired back a couple years later and got a deal he really wanted.

My husband has worked compensation a long time, and he has come into companies, a new job, and seen really crazy pay, that on paper when evaluated for the entire company some people have ridiculous unreasonable deals they negotiated for themselves, that managers went with, and somehow the HR before him approved. For whatever reason it sometimes is happening and sure some people are aware, but there can be people unaware. The manager might not care, because he wants the employee, and senior executives might not be on top of everyone’s pay, and if there is change over in HR they may let old deals slide, depends on the company. In some ways it seems like companies often pay what they have to for the right employee, and pay what they can get away with if they can. But, it is true they know what every employee makes of course. It still reminds me though of all the information I have heard and read that women don’t know their value, don’t ask for the higher pay, and are not as good at negotiating.

In the business climate today, getting away with paying employees a low wage is almost applauded, it makes me sick. I think a company could easily not be paying much attention to gender if they truly do believe gender does not matter. They might not realize they are paying women less, until they sit down and think, hey the last five hires were women and they make $1 less an hour than the other 3 guys. Because if they had hired men, they would have been happy to pay the $1 less too. People rationalize or are oblivious to things all the time. That is why the laws are so important. The laws force companies to think about and analyze their pay structure.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie As a small business owner, I am aware of the challenges. But wouldn’t you agree companies can actually get on top of equal pay for equal work; and that they are FAR more likely to do so if there are significant financial penalties hanging over their heads for not doing so?

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I do agree if there are penalties they are more likely to stay on top of it. Which is why I mentioned I do believe we need laws to protect workers. I much prefer rational laws to unions actually.

What if after analysis a company has a few people way overpaid? Are you going to reduce their salaries? Raise the salaries of their counterparts to level things out so everyone is overpaid? Although, I am not asking this only concerning underpaying a certain group, sometimes it is not discrimination of a group, but just sort of random. I have been through some payscale restructuring in companies I have worked at, and my husband has of course too, and it usually does not go over too well. People eventually leave or adjust, but the process is painful.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie If it were my company to run, I’d cut ultra high salaries and prepare to replace rather than going way beyond what my competitors are paying with my entire workforce.

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