April 2, 2019
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic Women’s Caucus and actress Michelle Williams for a press event marking Equal Pay Day and celebrating the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Rosa [DeLauro], for your kind introduction and your tremendous leadership on behalf of America’s families.
This is about equal pay for equal work and the impact that it has on America’s families. And you have been, as our distinguished Chair Louis Frankel said, ‘The godmother’ of so much, especially the Paycheck Fairness Act.
I just want to tell you this story because earlier it was mentioned when women succeed, America succeeds. And when we were on that bus tour and we went to Rosa’s district, this story I think demonstrates an array of issues on behalf of working families that Rosa has been involved in.
We’re there and a woman came to testify, and she said, ‘I’m not going to tell you my story,’ which is about a single mom who overcame obstacles and now is a school bus driver. She said, ‘I’m going to tell you about the stories about the people that I see every day.’
‘Every day, I pull up to the curb and I can see it coming. There will be a mom there with tears in her eyes and I know what she’s going to do. She’s going to put a sick child on the bus for these reasons. First of all, she can’t afford to take a day off because her pay is low and if she takes a day or two or three off, she may not have a job. She has no paid sick leave, so she cannot resort to that and she certainly cannot afford child care.’
That is the story of so many women in our country.
The idea that Rosa has had, and she passed this when we had the Majority before. We couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate, but nonetheless. Hopefully, public opinion will weigh in with the Senate now.
In that regard, I want to acknowledge so many of the groups that are here from the ACLU to YWCU, Leadership Council for Human Rights, American Association of University Women, Center for American Progress, Justice for Migrant Women, MomsRising, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Partnership for Women and Families, National Women’s Law Center.
I named some. There are more. I named some because without the outside mobilization, it is impossible to make the difference just with inside maneuvering.
So, we thank all of you. I thank so many of you who are here for your work.
As it’s been said, [Equal Pay Day] is the day that women would start earning money [after catching up to men’s] 2018 wages and salaries, et cetera. So, it is an important day for us. But the important day was last week when we, during Women’s History Month, under Rosa DeLauro’s leadership, we were able to pass the [Paycheck Fairness Act].
As I mentioned, it is not just this issue that Rosa has taken the lead on but a full complement of issues that are about balancing work and family.
As Lois Frankel mentioned, this isn’t just about losing $400,000 dollars, as serious as that is to a family, it is about the retirement of women as well and how it affects them and us all in their later years. It is so very really, really important, so I thank Rosa for her leadership in that regard. It is pretty exciting.
But nothing tells the story more eloquently than the story – the personal stories. To have a person with us today who has had the generosity of spirit to publicly tell her story in a way that is so compelling and raises the awareness in the public on the issue. She is a star of stage and screen, a fighter for fair pay. She was discriminated against in her own respected arena.
So, when star power weighs in, it really does have a way of attracting much more attention – we think we are in the attraction business but, really, when somebody who is really in the attraction business calls attention to one of the challenges many women face – before I bring her on, I just want to pay tribute to our friends in labor because nothing has done more, no institution, no anything has more than organized labor for equal pay for equal work.
So, from the grassroots level, to the bus stop, to the workplace in so many different ways, women will benefit from, again, the generosity of spirit of our very special guest – I want to give a nice Capitol welcome to Michelle Williams.