With Republicans insisting the war on women is a fiction created by Democrats, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) renewed her push for passage of a bill designed to close the “loopholes” in the Equal Pay Act and modernize fair pay laws to reflect the realities of today’s workforce.
“Women make up more than half the country’s population and more than half the workforce,” Sen. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said during a conference call with reporters on the Paycheck Fairness Act. “Women are out-earning men in college degrees and advanced degrees. But … men are still out-earning women at work.”
Women make on average 77 cents on the dollar, with African-American women earning 68 cents and Hispanic women just 59 cents.
Gillibrand focused on her home state of New York and pointed out that the discrepancy is especially difficult in households wholly or partially dependent on the earnings of the mother, pointing to a recently released report showing working women in New York state earn 14.6 less than men doing comparable work.
Ms. Gillibrand said despite the Equal Pay Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which empowers women to pursue back-pay, “big corporations can still take advantage of an array of loopholes to pay women below their value.”
She said the Paycheck Fairness Act: Would mandate that employers prove any pay disparity is job related; would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with co-workers; strengthen punitive and compensatory damages; require the U.S. Department of Labor to improve outreach to employers to eliminate pay disparities; enhance the collection of wage information to address pay disparities, and create grant programs to strengthen the negotiation skills of girls and women.
Gillibrand continued: “We all know how fragile our economy is. And when women are shortchanged at work, that makes their families less secure and our entire economy less secure. If we paid women a dollar for every dollar a man earns, we could put more middle-class families on stable grounds and grow America’s Gross Domestic Product by as much as 9 percent. They key to economic strength is women. The key to out-innovating and out-building our global competition is women.”
A similar measure is in the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee.
Photo from wdpg_share via flickr.