By Adeyemi and Moawad
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Under the new leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House of Representatives voted 315 to 116 this week to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 proposes to raise the minimum wage in three increments over the next two years.
"Today women and minority workers are overrepresented among minimum wage workers," said Rep. Hilda L. Solis, D-Calif., in a press release. "Too many women struggle to make ends meet throughout their working life and retirement. The Fair Minimum Wage Act will give 1.4 million working mothers a pay raise."
The Fair Minimum Wage Act also includes workers from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory that has historically been exempt from U.S. labor laws but one that has a garment industry that relies heavily on the cheap labor of women. The act proposes to raise the Mariana minimum wage from the current $3.05 per hour to meet the U.S. minimum wage in half-dollar increments every six months.
The White House issued a Jan. 10 statement opposing the measure and urged the Senate to add in tax breaks to small business to offset increased labor costs.
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Catholic Health Australia, the health arm of the Catholic Church, has written an 80-page policy that prohibits Catholic hospitals from administering emergency contraception to women who have been sexually assaulted, the Daily Telegraph reported Jan. 11.
"If you're going to be providing a service then, ethically not morally, you must provide the full range of services available within those parameters," Karen Willis of the New South Wales Rape Crisis Center said. "It's just another barrier and as far as I'm concerned it's unethical."
The policy also bans Catholic hospitals from referring rape victims to crisis centers that supply emergency contraceptives. Catholic Health Australia controls more than 680 hospitals, about 70 percent of the health facilities in the nation. The Australian Medical Association, an organization of doctors, said it would oppose state contracts paid with public tax funds to Catholic hospitals that refuse to provide full medical services, including abortion, rape counseling, sterilizations and fertility treatments.
Judith P. Vladeck, 83, a prominent lawyer who was nationally known for her powerful defenses of women's rights in labor law, died this week in Manhattan. During her 50-year legal career, Vladeck took on Wall Street investment firms, state universities and international corporations, and usually settled for millions. In a case filed against the City University of New York in 1973, Vladeck traced salary histories for more than 5,000 female faculty members, which led to a ruling that found the university guilty of discriminating against female professors for 15 years.
Toyin Adeyemi is an independent journalist based in New York City. Nouhad Moawad is Women's eNews' Arabic intern.
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