Lilly Ledbetter, the modern-day equal pay icon, has a message for Hollywood: “Equal pay for equal work is an American right!”
Ledbetter, whose one-woman crusade led to the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009, has issued a statement that will be read Saturday at a Pay Equity Summit in Burbank to call attention to the plight of underpaid women in Hollywood’s historically female crafts.
“The film industry is a landscape of huge disparities, with those at the top earning tremendous amounts, while many workers who toil to support the process, particular in jobs primarily done by women, the pay scale is unconscionably disproportionate,” Ledbetter will say (read her statement in full below). “I stand with you in clarifying your goals, articulating your demands, and fighting for justice.”
Her message will be read at the summit by director-writer Rachel Feldman, former chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee, who’s in development on a political drama based on Ledbetter’s life. Speakers at the summit will include the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman and reps from Women in Media, IATSE Script Supervisor5s Local 871, the Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839), IATSE Costumer Designers Guild Local 892 and IATSE Prop Local 44, all of whom have been active in seeking pay equity for women who work in Hollywood’s historically female-dominated crafts.
“I know when you’re at the bottom of a power structure it’s very hard to hold your head up high and stand up for what is right, for your fair share,” Ledbetter told Deadline. “The film and television industry is a monolithic business with antiquated business practices that have historically excluded and diminished the skills and talents of women. But times are changing and I am proud of the brave women of this industry who are speaking up. Hold your heads high and keep it up.”
Originally scheduled to be held at the Animation Guild, organizers say that because of demand the summit is now set for the larger facilities at IATSE Local 80, at 2520 West Olive Ave., Suite 200 beginning at 10 AM.
Here’s Ledbetter’s full statement:
My name is Lilly Ledbetter and I fought The Goodyear Tire Company for cheating me of a fair wage. After nearly 20 years as a factory supervisor I discovered that they had lied, exploited, harassed, and taken advantage of my hard work simply because of my gender, and that the men with the exact same job earned nearly twice what I did. My husband and I both worked hard to make ends meet, to give our children an education and a good life. But their greed and misogyny affected not only my take home pay, but short-changed my overtime, my pension, 401(k), my social security – in other words – it would impact my life forever.
I took my issue to the courts and when I lost in The Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated that the decision was a grave injustice, urging Congress to Change the law and the public outcry about the ruling caused Congress to start work on a bill, supported by both parties at the time. That’s when I started walking the halls of the House and then the Senate to tell my story, for the people who make laws to understand what life looks like without protection. I became the face and the voice of fair pay. It took 18 months to get the Bill passed, and when it became the first bill President Obama signed into Law, I was enormously proud that it was called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.
The film industry is a landscape of huge disparities, with those at the top earning tremendous amounts, while many workers who toil to support the process, particular in jobs primarily done by women, the pay scale is unconscionably disproportionate. I stand with you in clarifying your goals, articulating your demands, and fighting for justice. Equal Pay for Equal Work is an American Right!