What’s The Point?

When someone sent me a shout about Lilly Ledbetter’s story over on Digg today, I learned a few new things I thought I’d share here. If you’re not familiar with Digg, you should be. It’s a lot of fun, totally addictive and can be, occasionally, educational, too. Today, for me, it was educational.

Here’s the story a friend sent me: Digg – Goodyear Screwing Woman. Since she noted “We need 10,000 supporters by Mother’s Day to tell Goodyear consumers won’t stand for their unfair pay treatment of Lilly Ledbetter” I decided to check it out. Not only was I glad to learn about Lilly Ledbetter’s story, I was also impressed with the idea of the website where her story is now a campaign where you and I can do something about it.

So Who’s Lilly Ledbetter?

I don’t know how I managed to miss her story before now. She went to work as a supervisor for Goodyear in 1979, making the same salary as any other supervisor would have but by 1998 she learned, via an anonymous letter, that she was actually making considerably less than her male counterparts in Gadsen Alabama’s tire assembly department (even less than new-hires). She filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, but since the 1964 Civil Rights imposes a six-month limitations period on discriminatory acts she wasn’t able to bring the claim to court. So she filed a law suit.

Ledbetter claimed the “good ol’ boy” network at the Gadsen plant for the rift in salary. Goodyear cited employee evaluations for the fact she didn’t receive raises year after year. She prevailed in her lawsuit and the jury awarded her close to $4 million (which was reduced to $360,000 by the judge). Goodyear appealed the case, the ruling was overturned and the complaint dismissed.

Perhaps I’ve not quite done the story justice. There’s a really detailed account at Northwestern University’s Ledbetter, Lilly v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.. (The write up is no longer on the Northwestern website – you can find the Supreme Court docket write up here on FindLaw.) And TheMiddleClass.org’s got a great write up of the story here: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007.

And What’s The Point?

The Point is “a platform for group action” where users can sign up to make a difference. How cool is that?!

I can’t claim to be a huge social activist or philanthropist, but I do care and like the idea of thinking that I could actually help make a difference in something somewhere though coordinated group action. But let’s face it. I’m a home-body (hence the telecommuting side of me working out so well). I’m not going to be joining in a march or a protest any time soon to speak my mind about some social injustice. Nor am I likely to to think that anything I do on my own will really make a darn bit of difference. Sure, I’d like KFC to implement the recommendations made by their own animal welfare board, but I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that if I write the Colonel they’ll be inclined to make that change even if I threaten to never buy another bucket of their chicken so long as I live (which, by the way, wouldn’t be a very big sacrifice for us).

So I joined the point, surfed around and found that I really like the idea of this site. You can view current campaigns, start your own, view problems and discuss possible solutions, surfing through it all by date and by cloud tags as well.

The catch is that you have to be willing to make the change proposed in the campaign (but only after the goal is met). It’s like “Don’t Spill the Beans” only the objective is to spill ’em. Here’s the official description of how it works:

The Point takes the concept of the tipping point – the point at which group action will produce a clear result and inevitable change – and applies it to organizing group efforts, from organizing a get-together to boycotting a multinational corporation.

The possibilities for what users could do with the platform being offered at The Point are nearly endless. The ‘action’ could be anything from donating a dollar to boycotting a multi-billion dollar corporation (see their campaign creation guide for more info on that).

So now you, too, know The Point and Lilly Ledbetter.

Editor Update: May 15, 2008:
Lilly Ledbetter Update & Dunkin’ Donuts