Lilly Ledbetter – Politics and Social Justice – April 3, 2013 (April 4, 2013)
Lilly Ledbetter was on the campus of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg on April 3, 2013 as a featured speaker for “Politics and Social Justice Week”. After the close of her afternoon press conference she continued to speak with media:
Voice: ….Sometimes people don’t think about the long range impact [crosstalk], about how it’s going to affect…
Lilly Ledbetter: And my husband died. They didn’t take that into calculation when they stood, if they, and they, they still look at women, “Well, she’s got a husband.” And I still talk to young people, why are we still talking about men’s jobs and women’s jobs? Why don’t we say “a job”? This is a….if you got a job on this campus you’ve got a description. And you’ve got an education requirement, you’ve got an experience requirement, you’ve got all of those things printed out. And when you start looking at that you want to find the best qualified person. You shouldn’t care what color, what sex, what country, or anything, as long as they’re a citizen here. And pick, select the best person. It’s still, it’s, that’s what my neighbor asked me. What was I doing in that man’s job? It wasn’t a man’s job.
Voices: It’s a job. It’s just a job.
Lilly Ledbetter: It’s a job.
Question: Do you think part of that is, you know, it’s not polite to talk about money, it’s not polite to ask people what they make, I mean? [Lilly Ledbetter: “Sure”] Do those conversations need to be more prevalent between coworkers or?
Lilly Ledbetter: Well, see Goodyear said if we discussed our pay, that’s the reason I didn’t know [voice: “Yeah.”], I honestly didn’t know. I mean, that’s one thing people do when your job is threatened, you will not do anything to get, to lose it. And, uh, I didn’t know. And, and guessing I knew, common sense told me, since they had had so few women and they still had so few women they would prefer not to have them. So I knew that I wasn’t getting exactly what the men were, but if I had been in reason. There were years that I made below the minimum. And the lady who testified on my behalf at trial and had left and so had twenty-two years seniority and service, she was making below the minimum as an area manager, the same job I had. Below the minimum. That’s not right.
Question: But, do you think that, you know, companies at that time encouraged sort of the idea that not talking about salaries, because this would basically cause people to say, “Wait a minute, I’m not,” you know?
Lilly Ledbetter: It is. They think it’s [crosstalk] internally.
Question: The culture, yeah, the, the culture is encouraged generally [crosstalk] and so it, it works in…
Lilly Ledbetter: Yeah. See, Senator Tom Harkin has a bill that would require corporations, uh, to just post. See, when cost of living increases, you know, I may hire in on an area manager’s job or supervisor, and here was the job pay structure. This was what I knew I might get some day if I topped out. But, later on, when cost of living increased, the top, and the mid, and the bottom, I couldn’t find out because the company never posted it. It was a big secret. [voices: “Yeah.”] No one knew. And no one ever knew what the maximum was. In fact, every once in a while, I later found out, that some, one or two of the men had made, gotten so much money until they no longer got qualified for the overtime. Because their salaries were so great, until, even if they did work over they still was over what the union people was getting. It’s, and it’s not, see, and I don’t understand, simply, and I know that I’m not up to think on that level, but, uh, it’s probably why I never had a higher job [laughter], but, the union people’s salaries, everybody knows what the union people make. And most of your state and federal, schools and jobs, they all know what everybody makes. [voice: “It’s a public record.”] Now sometimes they make it a little harder to find out, but you can find out. And, and it doesn’t seem to bother people. So, I, I don’t, I don’t know. And it just, you know, women, when we get our pay, we go out into the community, we’ll spend it. We’ll buy better food, we’ll buy better clothing, we may trade cars, we may buy big, and those kids will have a better education and better health care. And it benefits the community, the state, and the nation.
Voice: And, ultimately, a more secure retirement.
Lilly Ledbetter: That’s right. That’s right. And then the government doesn’t have to kick in and keep everybody up.
Voices: Exactly. Exactly.
Voice: Thank you all for…
Lilly Ledbetter: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you very much, enjoyed it.
Sharing a passage from Lilly Ledbetter’s (right) “Grace and Grit” at a late evening reception.