Michelle Obama draws thousands to UVA rally


At today's women-oriented rally, Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, told the assembled, "We won't stop working until there's equal pay for equal work."
PHOTO BY RYAN HOOVER

Before a crowd of 3,000 students, faculty, and community members, Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (IL), spoke outside the University of Virginia's Newcomb Hall on an unseasonably warm September afternoon imploring the assembled to get "fired up and ready to go" for her husband's White House bid.

"It's going to be a rough ride for the next several weeks, and it will be close," she said. "Every day, every single hour, every minute from now until Election Day matters."

And, as Obama pointed out, that's especially true in Virginia.

"Understand that Virginia is critical," she said. "It's what we call a swing state, and we want it swinging our way."

Specifically, the event was a "Women for Obama" rally and with Jill Biden, wife of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (DE), in tow, Obama made a point to make an appeal to the women who made up the majority of the crowd by speaking to the issue of women's disproportionately lower wages compared to male counterparts.

"The truth is if women are paid unfairly, who pays the price?" said Obama. "Their kids, their families pay the price, and we won't stop fighting until there's equal pay for equal work."

But, ever conscious of the fact that she was on a college campus, Obama reached out the the student base, thanking them for being part of her husband's coalition of support since the early primaries.

"You guys have been doing it all year, canvassing in the rain and snow," she said. "I don't know about UVA, do you get a little snow here? Well in Iowa we were cold!"

Obama also shared that both she and her husband shared one economic fact of life with college students.

"I know a lot of you young students don't want to hear this," she said, "but Barack and I just recently paid down our student debt several years ago, and one reason that we did is that Barack wrote two best-selling books."

For these reasons and others, Obama finished her remarks by offering instructions on how each person who had turned out that day could help the campaign coming down the home stretch.

"It's easy to get involved," she said. "We've got a ground game like nothing else here in Virginia."

And after 20 minutes on the stump, she left with the rallying cry, "Let's go change the world!"

If the makeup of the crowd was any indicator, Obama's appeal cuts across demographical lines. Riko Smalls, a first-year student at UVA from Plano, Texas, says he had just heard of the rally that day and that he was so inspired that he registered to vote on the spot.

"It was amazing. Everything she said was on point," said Smalls. "This will be my first presidential election, and I can't wait to vote for Barack Obama."

Martha McIntire, a grandmother of two from Louisa, was equally moved.

"I'm worried about the future my grandchildren will grow up in," she said, "but I'm delighted I have the chance to vote for Barack Obama. I had a chance to vote for Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale in 1984, and I'm glad I've lived to see this day as well."

The event was not the first time an Obama has made a splash in Charlottesville. Back on October 30, 2007, Sen. Obama set an attendance record by attracting 5,000 to the Charlottesville Pavilion, and raising $250,000 for his campaign in the process.

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17 comments

I hope any college student reading this will do the research on equal pay for equal work. It only appears that way because there are a lot of 60 year old men making their top salaries. If you study it you will see that this is a smoke and mirror game.

Look at any business or profession and you will see that this disparity does not really exist.

If two UVA Biology Grads go to Merk, or NIH or any other pharm the man and woman will be offered the same salary.

Obama preys on making you think you are disadvanteged and need protection.

What you need is protection from a govenment that wants to take away your ability to get ahead.

Yah, she's a brick house!

Rosie,

It's spelled MerCk.

I agree that pharma has been more advanced than some other industries in employee fairness.

Obama's support of women's equal pay is only one facet of a broad, detailed plan, bolstered by past actions in advocacy of women.

I encourage you to explore them here.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/womenissues

Lee

Can someone tell Biden to stop talking about raising taxes so much? Solution can go beyond taxes.

Getting ahead does not have very much meaning as I observe global, financial, ecological and social crisis looming ever larger. Our quality of life diminshes even as some of us are "getting ahead."

Fortunately, many women have achieved equal pay. But Lily Ledbetter who spoke at the rally yesterday had a different story after her 30 years at Goodyear. Unfortunately for her, equal work did not mean equal pay to the Bush stacked Supreme Court. She said that the disparity effected her children's college educations and her retirement. So she has made it her job to speak up so that there is equality in gender earning power. Also according to the statistics that I have heard, most white women earn 70 some cents to the dollar that men make, black women make 60 some cents to the dollar, and latino women make 50 some cents to the dollar.

Years ago, a friend of mine went to Bangladesh to work in the loan dept. at Grumman Bank. They found that giving small loans to women was a very sound investment and also found that the success of the women had far reaching positive consequences for their children and their community. In the book, Health Communication by Snehendu B. Kar, Rina Alcalay, Shana Alex , the Grumman Bank program is cited as an example of "strong evidence of the effectiveness of mothers and women as leaders and as a powerful force for social change" (page 346).

My point here is: if the dollars that women earn will be invested in education and health for their families and community improvement than every 30, 40 and 50 cents per hour will make a huge difference in quality of life. So those of us who already have equal pay and care about our future, we can and should advocate for those who don't.

Listening to Michele Obama and Lily Ledbetter did not make me feel disadvantaged, preyed upon, or in need of protection. It did make me feel powerful and it made my imagination soar to think what we women could accomplish with inspiring our government to funnel some of the war billions towards home, education, health, and community. If our government won't do that then let's make sure that more women earn more. Because if our government won't, women have done so and will.

I want to take my hat off to Ann Catherine. Very well said Ms. Catherine, please don't every stop writing.

Listening to Lily and Michelle didn't make me feel did not make me feel disadvantaged, preyed upon, or in need of protection either. However, it was validating and encouraging to have someone address an issue that has existed for ages and is far from being resolved, even in our "post-feminist" society. As someone more clever that I stated, "I'll be a postfeminist in a postpatriarchy". Thanks for the forum.

You are all citing people who have been in the work force 30 years...

Why not talk to UVA grads from 2005 and see how they are doing... why not talk to bank of America and see if they deny loans to women?

Your all full of it.

Black women earn SUBSTANTIALLY more than black men. In fact black men have a legitimate beef because they are in the blue collar non union work force.

Hispanic women do not have the educational credentials as white men.

Apples to apples women equal men. A GS-15 with the Governemt is a fixed pay.
An entry level accountant at GE or IBM is the same for men or women.

If as a woman YOU make a decision to have kids and stay home for months at a time don't be surprized if the MAN that covered for you gets a bigger raise. He should, he did more work and produced more for the company. If you don't like it marry a Mr Mom.

This is just a red herring to get some votes. There are no more laws to pass. They are on the books. There are lots of women at the EEOC in fact the entire federal government is 80% Democrats

suck it up ladies. If your so smart prove it. Women own 51% of samll business in this country ... make it happen.

"Also according to the statistics that I have heard, most white women earn 70 some cents to the dollar that men make, black women make 60 some cents to the dollar, and latino women make 50 some cents to the dollar." This statistic implies that they are all doing the same job which is ridiculous. I really wish people would stop trying to use copied statistics in their arguments; they often mislead and do not apply.
Has anybody noticed that in the past thirty years women exceed men in the number enrolled and graduating from college? Any business that will want to compete will have to do everything to lure the most qualified, which are often women. Whoever would have thought 15 years ago tha Hewlett-Packard would have a woman in charge? Who ever thought that a black man would be in charge of the New York Stock Exchange? I doubt seriously if the government can do anything to speed up this phenomena. It makes for a good stump speech, though.

Rosie, how nice for you that you and all the working women that you know are paid as well as men in your chosen professions. Take time out to thank a feminist for that. The women who went before you made it possible, as did men who recognized the inherent anti-Americanism in such discrimination.

Watch a couple of episodes of "Mad Men" to see what it was like for your mothers and grandmothers.

In the meantime, you should broaden your life experience a little and talk to women who have been in the work force for maybe a little less than thirty years and still make substantially less than their male counterparts. I'm not sure I understand how being older denies women the right to equal treatment. You might find anecdotally as well as through studies (some of which were done by your government) that in addition to less pay, women are often denied promotion opportunities and fail to reach the highest executive levels even in businesses where they are by far the greater percentage of the workforce.

In the communications business for example, women have been a larger percentage of graduating college classes since 1977, yet more than 30 years later, they still make less than men on average. The percentage of women is usually higher in newsrooms, yet women are less likely to be in management, less likely to hold decision-making positions and less likely to be on the board of directors. You might want to check out a study called "The Glass Ceiling Persists."

What the government can do, Cville Eye, is enforce the law, Title VII and the Equal Pay Act, for starters. What we can do as a society is insist that such treatment is not acceptable. That regardless of race, creed or gender equal work deserves equal pay and stop denying that discrimination doesn't exist because it makes us feel better to do so.

Despite your callous dismissal of women's struggles in the workforce, I sincerely hope that neither of you -- or your daughters or mothers or sisters -- do not have to experience the personal, professional and financial traumas of being denied equal opportunity and pay because of your gender.

What about this female not getting a job at all, although education and experience are at the top of the list.

Equal opportunity and Equal pay are two different things.

Equal opportunity is enforeable and is actively enforced by the EEOC everyday.

There are also civil remedies.

Equal pay is subjective.

The bottom line is that an employee is nothing more than a comoddity. The employer wants to rent you for a year at a certain price and make a markup on your production. No different than a tractor or a pizza oven from a business standpoint. So if you are more productive, more reliable and easy to deal with you will be more valuable and worth more at lease renewal time.

Having a penis has a lot less to do with it than you might think.

The bottom line however is that Obam is trying to make an issue where it does not exist. The laws are there, the enforcement is there and there is no law he can pass that will change things.

He is just trying to trip your emotions for a vote. (and that the same "lack of change" you can believe in)

Equal pay for equal work..........doesn't even happen in a man/man
world! It's all in what you bring to the table and your negotiating
skills-PERIOD!

Mr. Employer hits it right on the head!

Senator Obama is also trying to "buy" your vote with a campaign promise
to send those below a certain income level other peoples money-PERIOD!

To simplify things do the level of "Equal pay for equal work”Š”Š”Š.doesn’t even happen in a man/man
world! It’s all in what you bring to the table and your negotiating skills-PERIOD!" is naive. How long have you been employed in the real world?

Equal pay is not "subjective." You make a mistake when you are only comparing dollar figures for individuals. The concept of Equal Pay isn't examined in a vacuum independent of experience, job performance, title or responsibilities and yes, negotiation. These are subjective and can absolutely account for disparaties that are in no way unfair or illegal.

Equal pay for equal work addresses larger issues, such as whether more men than women are systematically promoted to higher pay levels regardless of company-evaluated job performance. Whether the company violates its own policies in pay or promotions. Or whether women have the titles and the higher salaries, but their responsibilities are equal to or less than men doing similar work. It cuts both ways. Men can file claims as well.

I worked for a company that actually TOLD employees that men needed to make more money because they were heads of households.
I've seen pay records that show a company routinely hiring women at lower salaries, even when their education levels and experience dramatically exceeded that of their male counterparts.

Discrimination isn't usually about a bunch of guys in a backroom with a sign saying "no girls allowed." It's about systems that allow for unfairness, about individual decisions that create those systems and the failure of a company to address them.

Disagree with Obama, be indignant over false cries of victimhood, be critical of poor interpretations of the law but don't pretend that there is no need to continue to fight to have companies fairly compensate people regardless of their gender. To do so simply ignores the facts that even cursory investigation of EEOC charges and litigation would substantiate.

OK answer this conumdrum...

You need to hire two managers with 5 years experience. Your budget is 40-50k. You narrow it down to your two picks. They are equal. You offer them both 42.5k. The man counteroffers with 47.5k, still within your budget. You hire him. The woman for whatever reason (fear, past discriminaton whatever) accepts the 42.5k. You hire her.

Should the employer be legally obligated to pay her the 47.5 that it took to get the other guy?

WHY? She accepted 42.5k and would have been happy with it if there were only one opening available.

Suppose the woman countered with 50k, should they have to make it equal to the man? Why? men have had it easy forever?

Either way OBAMA cannot fix this and to imply that he can is a LIE.

Obama will spend so much time trying to make sure all of the ice cream scoops are equal that Congress will steal the Treasury.

"Obama will spend so much time trying to make sure all of the ice cream scoops are equal that Congress will steal the Treasury."

Ummm...now that the Administration and Wall Street has already stolen the Treasury, what is left for Congress to steal?

The government can not MAKE anybody pay anybody anything, but they can introduce tax and other incentives to encourage it. And even that might change - as of now the government can not MAKE a corporation pay or not pay a fired executive. Public will just might change that very quickly. If we're going to bail their irresponsible greedy asses out, then we get to dictate a lot of the terms of engagement. THIS is why Congress should and hopefully will put the brakes on this emergency bail out.

Bush and his cronies are saying there's an impending crisis and if this bill isn't passed as written by lunch tomorrow we'll have soup lines. Sound familiar? Remember that clear and present danger in Iraq - the nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons pointed at our head that we needed to take out right away or else? How'd that work out for us?

Why anybody would give Bush or anybody who works for him (or, frankly, anybody who voted for him) the benefit of a doubt is beyond me.

But I digress. THis is about equal pay. One thing is for certain: if Jonah McPalin is elected equal pay, equal rights, and equal anything will be off the table. Period. There will be no effort to do the right thing, no government leadership or encouragement. If Obama is elected the effort will be there. It will take time, and it will take leadership.

An interting article showing Senator Obama is saying one thing but actually doing another:

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=35972