You see, the problem is that AB 31 does nothing to actually guarantee or assure equal pay. State law already effectively guarantees that by allowing the Department of Workforce Development to penalize employers who have been found to discriminate against their employees for virtually any reason. All this bill does is allow an employee to sue for punative damages. Even though DWD is authorized to award reinstatement, back pay up to 2 years prior to the complaint and costs/attorney fees. Not that "groundbreaking" of a bill, really. Yet Rep. Sinicki said:
“This is an historic day for women and all workers... We want finally to be able to tell Wisconsin’s children they have the strongest legal protections possible against workplace discrimination.”No, we now allow a person to sue for millions of dollars. We don't guarantee squat.
The other bill in the release is AB 172 and mandates that all school districts in the state teach "the history of organized labor in America and the collective bargaining process." Sounds fairly innocent. No big deal right?
Well, let's see the intent of the legislators' who back the bill. From the press release:
Rep. Jorgensen; "“By teaching labor history in our schools, we’re preparing students to go to work knowing that people who came before them toiled, bled and organized to gain the eight-hour day and forty-hour work week we now take for granted."As a history major who focused on American and European history I find it absurd that we are now mandating labor history. It is unnecessary as it is impossible to teach American, let alone European history, without including labor history. I think that the statements by the main proponents of the bill show that this is nothing more than a political move that seeks to include the political effects of unions and paint them in only the most flattering view possible and pacify a core constituency.
Sen. Hansen; "Kids in every Wisconsin town need to understand they can create change by organizing and taking action with their peers and co-workers."
I doubt very much that this bill stems from any empirical evidence that there is a lack of labor history currently taught in school. Also, and this is the biggest issue I have, the more we pile on mandates of what must be taught in schools the more likely it is that nothing will be taught beyond a basic "this happened on this date, this happened here" approach to history.
Our goal in high school history classes need to be on the importance of historical events and why they happened, not a boring recitation of dates and places. It's very simple, when we mandate subjects - especially for pandering political reasons like this one - we run the risk of nothing being taught in any meaningful way.
Let teachers do their jobs. If their students pass the graduation requirements and standardized tests, who cares what their curriculum is?