OTHER OPINION: Gender equity | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

OTHER OPINION: Gender equity

We haven’t come very far, baby

Posted: February 22, 2011 - 8:27pm

“It’s unnecessary. It doesn’t add any value to Minnesota workers or to Minnesota government.”
That’s state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, talking about legislation he’s authored that would eliminate the state law that requires state and local government to pay the same wages regardless of gender.
Drazkowski believes because a similar law is enshrined in federal law, it’s redundant for the North Star State.
We bet there’s at least 1,300 people who feel differently.
We haven’t come so far, baby.
Drazkowski would try to have us believe that gender discrimination, especially in the public sector, isn’t a problem. In other words, government jobs pay the same no matter the gender. Besides, federal law takes care of the issue, so state law is redundant.
The state of Minnesota reports that nearly 1,300 employees in the course of 14 years have been victims of wage discrimination. That’s cost the government more than $1.2 million in back wages and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
To believe Minnesota doesn’t need the law is at best naive and, at worst, sexist.
The law isn’t some gotcha provision. Agencies found to be violating the wage law are given a 90-day notice to correct the action. Action is only taken against the entities that do not heed the state’s warning.
The law that Drazkowski wants to eliminate ensures that government is actually practicing what it preaches.
It means the state is willing to hold itself accountable for doing the right thing. In other words, it means transparency in the name of doing what’s right.
Unless, of course, this really has nothing to do with redundancy and everything to do with where Drazkowski and those who would follow him believe women should be.