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Written by Gysele Miranda of LCLAA National

June 10th marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy signing into law the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963. But while a lot has changed in these past 50 years, there still exists a gender wage gap in today’s society.  

Back in 1963, women were paid 59 cents for every dollar paid to men. Today, it is said that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar. Some improvement has been made, but it is still not equal or fair pay. The disparity becomes even larger when one looks at women of color, African-American women earn 60 cents and Latinas earn only 54 cents for every dollar.

For women who enter such male dominated careers like engineering or management (for example), they are often paid less than their male counterparts even though most have the same (or more) amount of experience/skill set. This is coming at a time where more women are the breadwinners of their families. Thus, pay disparity not only hurts women but also their families and by extension our economy. In a grander scheme, this pay disparity affects greatly the female college graduates with growing amounts of student debt. Because these women are paid less, more of their income goes to paying off those debts leaving less and less for investment, whether it be investing in a stock portfolio or their retirement plans.

Why is this pay disparity still happening? The EPA was signed to eliminate this problem and promote gender equality 50 years ago, but the problem persists. The answer is that private and public companies are now exploiting loopholes found in the act. The Equal Protection Act states that the acceptable reasons for paying women less than men are to be based on seniority, merit, and productivity. However, it gives some “breathing room” for companies by allowing them to use more vague reasons, such as personality, as a reason for less pay. Another issue with the EPA is that no punitive damages are dealt to the employer who is found guilty of discrimination. Only retroactive pay for the two previous years of employment can be won by the plaintiff, which is hardly a deterrent to large corporations.  More and more private companies are also making sure that workers do not disclose their salary to others with the threat of termination. The disclosure of salary is not protected by the EPA.

However, there are already efforts being made to close these loopholes in the EPA and to help further women’s rights. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which allowed for more time to file a charge of discriminatory pay (under the EPA it was 180 days within the first discriminatory paycheck, with the Fair Pay act it was extended to 180 days after receiving any discriminatory paycheck). More recently, the Paycheck Fairness Act was set to be voted on the week of June 4 in the Senate. This act further looks to close any loopholes in the EPA by requiring more legitimate reasons for less pay from companies (such as fewer credentials rather than personality), allowing punitive damages, and protecting the disclosure of salary between workers, thus creating transparency in the workplace.

 

But this isn’t the first time this bill has come to a vote, it was introduced in 2009. However, in 2010, it was defeated by a minority of U.S. Senators. NOW is the time more than ever to advocate for this act so it actually gets passed and also to strengthen the enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws. A wide coalition between various civil rights, community and activist groups, including the Coalition of Labor Union Women, has formed across the country to urge constituents to write to their senators. The wage gap for Latinas is the highest in the nation and as such, LCLAA will continue to support the Equal Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act. LCLAA firmly believes in advancing women’s rights, not only for Latinas but for all women. We strongly urge YOU to become more active as the fight continues for legislation that ensures equality and fair pay!

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Governor Vetoes Dream Act Driver’s License Bill

Republican Governor Rick Scott Bucks Fellow Florida Republicans; Continues National Republican Effort to Marginalize Hispanic and Other Legalized Immigrants

Orlando - Senator Darren Soto (D-Orlando) and Representative Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando)on Wednesday held a press conference to highlight GOP Governor Rick Scott's latest refusal to embrace the Hispanic community in Florida. The lawmakers met to discuss the Governor's veto on Tuesday of HB 235 which would have allowed legal Hispanic and other legal immigrants in the United States with no criminal history to obtain a driver’s license.  The measure was approved in the Republican-dominated legislature with a vote of 115-2 in the Florida House and unanimously in the Senate.
Hispanic and non-Hispanic members of the Florida Legislature are expected to join Sen. Soto and Rep. Bracy at the event, including Senator Geraldine Thompson, Representatives Victor Torres, Ricardo Rangel, Joe Saunders, and Linda Stewart.  Several local grassroots supporters of the failed legislation are also expected to attend.
The press conference was held on Wednesday, June 5th, at 11:00 PM outside the Orange County Courthouse, 425 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801.

Here is the Gov's veto letter, explaining that yes, DACA recipients can still get a temporary drivers license card.
June 4, 2013Secretary Kenneth W. Detzner
Secretary of State
Florida Department of State
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Dear Secretary Detzner:

By the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Florida, under the provisions of Article III, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida, I do hereby veto and transmit my objections to House Bill 235 enacted during the 115th Session of the Legislature of Florida, during the Regular Session of 2013 and entitled:

An act relating to requirements for driver licenses…

Florida is home to immigrants of many nationalities, who add to the cultural fabric of our great state, and whose productivity and hard work have contributed to our economic turnaround.  Still, our nation struggles with immigration issues every day, as Americans seek to reconcile the fact that at one point our families were immigrants who came, as many do today, to work and live the American dream with the fact that the federal government has failed at enforcing the nation's laws on this topic.

Despite the federal government's inability to enforce the nation's current immigration laws or to find common ground on how to change them, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in a June 2012 memo the immediate establishment of a "Deferred Action Process for Childhood Arrivals." Through this process DHS provides that a young person illegally brought to the United States as a child will not be subject to removal if the individual meets certain criteria.  Qualifying for deferred action status does not confer substantive rights or lawful status upon an individual; it does not create a pathway to a green card or citizenship; nor does it extend to any family members of the person granted the status either.  Deferred action status is simply a policy of the Obama Administration, absent Congressional direction, designed to dictate removal action decisions using DHS agency discretion.  It was never passed by Congress, nor is it a promulgated rule.

Given that deferred action status does not confer substantive rights or lawful status upon an individual, Florida is best served by relying on current state law. Already, Florida law allows those with a federal employment authorization card, without regard to their deferred action status, to obtain a temporary Florida driver license.

Although the Legislature may have been well intentioned in seeking to expedite the process to obtain a temporary driver license, it should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis.

For the reasons stated above, I withhold my approval of House Bill 235, and do hereby veto the same.

Sincerely,

Rick Scott
Governor

In Solidarity
Victor Sanchez
Central Florida LCLAA
Chapter President
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The FL AFL-CIO, Central Florida Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Chapter and the Hope Community Center have joined forces to hold a day of immersion with the Apopka farmworker community, and experience the "hands on" work in the fields and the subsequent community forum.Apopka is brimming with history and stories - from its rural farmworker roots, to its increasingly more urbanized, multicultural state. Service-Learning is a way to actively contribute to the community, while learning about its history, social justice issues, culture, and much more! We have developed a unique model which makes it possible for people of various talents and walks of life to participate in our community. Come join us for a day of immersion where we will explore issues of immigration, and farmworkers. Our program strongly feels that by building community across cultures and socioeconomic status we can effectively change the world! Won't you be part of our CommUnity?

Here's a link https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4773781230353.1073741828.1470232586&type=1

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Good morning. I just got back from Washington DC and what an experience. LCLAA members participated at the 50 States United for Healthy Air this week. As one of the Florida Ambassadors we lobbied members of Congress and Senate demanding action for clean air, clean water and clean climate. Here is the press release. Organizations that participated ( American Nurses Association, Earthjustice, Hip Hop Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Churches, National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, and Physicians for Social Responsibility  represented all 50 states and Puerto Rico ) Florida Team visited  Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Congress Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bill Young, and John Mica. Florida Team ( Central Florida LCLAA Chapter, Sierra Club State, Hip Hop Caucus Miami and Physicians for Social Responsibility Indian Rocks.
 
Hi Everyone- It was so great having you all here. Telling your personal stories to both the EPA and congress.

 

Below is  the press release we sent out yesterday. Feel free to personalize it and share it with your local media contacts. It would be a good time to send  letter to  your local paper talking about your meetings and why you went to D.C.

Also you should go check out your ambassador page and see what people are posting.

What an amazing group. www.earthjustice.org/50states/2013

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

May 15, 2013

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Contacts:

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221rismail@earthjustice.org

Jemarion Jones, American Nurses Association, (301) 628-5198,jemarion.jones@ana.org

Chanelle Blackwell, Hip Hop Caucus, (202) 293-5902,chanelle@hiphopcaucus.org

Victor Baten, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, (561) 358-0254,vbaten@lclaa.org  

Tanea Jackson, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (410) 580-5762tjackson@naacpnet.org

Tyler Edgar, National Council of Churches, (239) 560-1560,tedgar@nccecojustice.org

Barbara Gottlieb, Physicians for Social Responsibility, (240) 461-2305,bgottlieb@psr.org

 

Clean Air Takes Over Capitol Hill

More than 100 physicians, tribal leaders, labor leaders, clergy, nurses, parents to meet with Congress on carbon pollution, smog, ash, other clean air priorities

 

Washington, D.C. - Today on Capitol Hill nurses, physicians, clergy, labor and tribal leaders, and social justice advocates are meeting with their members of Congress to call for greater protections from smog, coal ash, carbon and other dangerous air pollutants.  This National Asthma Awareness Month is an opportunity for Congress and the Obama administration to protect the health of millions of Americans suffering from asthma by adopting strong air pollution standards and protecting the Clean Air Act.

 

Under the banner of 50 States United for Healthy Air, this diverse group of representatives from American Nurses Association, Earthjustice, Hip Hop Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Churches, National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, and Physicians for Social Responsibility are representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico to clean up the air we all breathe.

 

These “Clean Air Ambassadors” are calling for:

  • Finalizing a pending standard to reduce carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants, and to urgently move forward on a standard to reduce emissions from existing power plants. These plants are responsible for more than one third of the carbon pollution generated in our nation.
  • Finalizing a federally enforceable coal ash rule. Over 1,400 unregulated coal ash dams and landfills threaten the health and safety of hundreds of communities living near these dump sites. Despite a massive coal ash spill and a growing number of coal ash contamination cases (204 in 37 states), the EPA has not finalized federal regulations for the disposal of toxic coal ash.
  • Strengthening the current standard for ozone pollution, or smog. This could annually prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, tens of thousands of asthma attacks and hospital visits, and hundreds of thousands of lost school and work days.
  • Finalizing the pending cleaner gasoline and tailpipe standards (Tier 3). This would reduce smog-producing pollution and soot emitted from our vehicles, preventing up to 2,400 premature deaths, 3,200 hospital admissions and 22,000 asthma attacks each year.

 

Stronger national air quality standards would force polluters to use available technology to clean up their act, reducing the threat to children, older adults, people with lung disease, people of color, low-income communities, and outdoor workers and recreators. 

 

Statement by Suzy Harrington, Director, Department for Health, Safety, and Wellness at American Nurses Association:

 

“As the largest group of health care providers, nurses see first-hand the devastating effects that air and water pollution can have on the health of individuals and communities if left unchecked. We encourage actions that will create healthy environments and improve the health of all Americans. We support regulations and standards that protect the public from the serious health risks linked to carbon, smog and other dangerous pollutants.”

 

Statement by Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice:

 

“Congress needs to hear and see that cleaning up our air a priority for a broad spectrum of their constituents. We are grateful for every health professional, clergy, labor leader, tribal leader and community advocate that has come to Washington to meet their member and tell their own story. The power of those personal experiences is what will overcome the dozens of high-paid industry lobbyists wanting fewer protections and less oversight. We are proud to help carry the message that clean air is important to all.”

 

Statement by Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr.Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO:

 

“The poor and people of color suffer first and worst from high levels of air and water pollution and from devastation by natural disasters caused by extreme weather patterns linked to climate change. The Hip Hop Caucus' grassroots leadership has come to Washington, DC to urge President Obama to tell the EPA to implement vital protections to clean up our air, with the fierce urgency of now.”

 

Statement by Milton Rosado, President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

 

“LCLAA fully supports the efforts of the 50 States United for Healthy Air. Upholding and improving air quality standards is imperative for the Latino community. Seven out of the 25 most polluted U.S. cities have Latino populations over 40 percent, threatening the health and well-being of our communities. Our 9 LCLAA Clean Air Ambassadors and the 52 LCLAA chapters are here to demand strong standards that will protect all communities from climate change and health-harming pollution.”

 

Statement by Jacqui PattersonNAACP Director of the Environmental and Climate Justice Program:

 

“Communities of color disproportionately endure higher rates of asthma, respiratory problems and other chronic diseases, not because of their lifestyles or because of genetics, but because of their zip codes. The NAACP will continue to stand up, speak out, and fight until all communities can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live on uncontaminated land.”

 

Statement by Cassandra Carmichael, Director of the National Council of Churches Washington Office:

 

"As Christians, clean air and healthy communities are in keeping with our call to serve as stewards of God's creation and seek justice for the vulnerable and marginalized among us. Climate change, smog, and coal ash disproportionately harm communities of color, low-income communities, the young while threatening the health and well-being of the whole of god's creation.”

 

Statement by Barbara Gottlieb, Director of Environment & Health atPhysicians for Social Responsibility:

 

"As doctors and health professionals, we are seriously worried about the health effects of climate change. From potentially fatal heat stroke to life-threatening storms, the spread of insect-borne and waterborne diseases, worsening air pollution, drought and food shortages, climate change is first and foremost a threat to health."

 Because the earth needs a good lawyer

 

 In Solidarity,

Victor Sanchez

Central Florida LCLAA
Chapter President
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Next week from May 13-16, 2013, I will be representing the Central Florida LCLAA Chapter as an Clean Air Ambassador in Washignton DC together with NLCCC, NAACP and other organizations. For more information on this year's 50 States Effort, please visit www.earthjustice.org/50states/2013 and http://earthjustice.org/50states/2013/victor-sanchez

Clean air and clean water are products of forests.

 The role of trees and forests in our ecosystems is absolutely critical. Forests renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Trees also clean our atmosphere by intercepting airborne particles, and by absorbing ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other greenhouse gases. A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen- enough to support two people.

Urban trees can do even more for clean air. Depending on location, species, size, and condition, shade from trees can reduce utility bills for air conditioning in residential and commercial buildings by 15 to 50%. Through shade and the evaporation of water from their leaves, trees also provide natural, low-tech cooling that reduces energy use and the need to build power plants.

While the role of trees in cleaning the air is well understood, the ecosystem services that forests perform regarding water is still being explored. Forests, it turns out, act as natural reservoirs, treatment plants, and  management storm water systems.

Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that process nearly two-thirds of the water supply in the United States. In their natural and healthy state, riparian forests help to keep the water in streams clear. The forests do such a good job that the city only needs to do a minimum of additional filtering.

The ability of forest vegetation and soils to absorb and filter water also increases groundwater, as clean water trickles down to feed aquifers that may be tapped hundreds of miles away by thirsty cities. This same capacity to absorb water helps moderate runoff during rainstorms, and is one reason that cities around the nation are aggressively planting trees. 

Victor Sanchez

Central Florida LCLAA

Chapter President

 

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