Sarasota-Bradenton Intl. Airport rejects ad on Florida's gender pay gap

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The issue of pay equity has surfaced in the CD13 race, with Alex Sink trying to make hay out of David Jolly's stance on the issue. Jolly has previously lobbied against the Paycheck Fairness Act, federal legislation designed to help close the pay gap between male and female workers.

Now a women's activist group is crying foul over an ad they wanted to post inside the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport that was rejected by airport officials. The ad referenced the fact that Florida  women make only .84 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts; that women have to pay more for health insurance with reproductive health care coverage; that numerous Florida lawmakers oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; and that Florida parents get no guaranteed paid maternity or sick leave.

“If Florida officials find their record on women’s equality to be embarrassing, they should work to change it, not hide it,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, the group behind the ads. “Women in Florida make only 84 cents to every dollar made by men, and that is unacceptable. When deciding where to spend their money, the public deserves to know which states are using those dollars to perpetuate discrimination, like Florida.”

But officials with the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport say it wasn't a tough decision to nix the ad.

"It was pretty clear cut," says John Schussler, Director of Properties at the airport. "Somebody did inquire about that, and we rejected it because it was political, and as a government entity we can't do political ads."

"But women being discriminated against isn’t issue advertising, it’s the fact of the lives of women in Florida," says Karin Roland, campaign director with UltraViolet."It's really not about politics, but about the fact of policies in Florida that are hurting women," she says.

Roland says that the funds to pay for the ads in Florida (which are running on a billboard just outside the airport and also on a mobile truck billboard circling around the airport) were acquired via a crowd funded campaign. She said they chose Sarasota because "it's an area where the war on women and women's lives are being discussed extensively."

There is a dispute about how long it took Sarasota airport officials to get back with UltraViolet on whether they would run the ads. Schussler says officials acted quickly in saying no, but Roland says that her group had been waiting for weeks for a response.

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