Nel's New Day

April 8, 2014

Equal Pay Day – GOP Disses Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:30 PM
Tags: , , ,

we_can_do_it_cc_img

Presidents frequently sign a proclamation to note important dates, but President Barack Obama went far beyond a statement of support today. On Equal Pay Day 2014, the president has signed two new executive orders to move women toward equal pay with men.

Both orders are similar to provisions in the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that the Senate is considering this week but the House is pretty sure to ignore:

  1. Prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who share salary information with others.
  2. Instruct the Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to report wage-related data to the government.

The Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act that would not only include these two provisions for most other employers but also require them to prove that gender differences in pay are based on issues other than sex. In addition, it would strengthen penalties for violations in equal pay.

President Obama began supporting equal pay as soon as he took over the office in January 2009. His first act was to sign an equal pay bill inspired by the SCOTUS decision against Lily Ledbetter, who discovered after 20 years with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. that men in her same job with equal or less experience earned much more money than she did. When she sued, SCOTUS maintained that she had only 180 days from being hired to complain, despite the fact that she didn’t learn about the different wages for 20 years. Congress passed the law that made the 180 days contingent on learning about the inequities.

Equal Pay Day is named for the date each year to show how far women must work into the current year to match the pay that men made the previous year. This year that day is April 8, better than April 18 in 2005, but not as good as April 3 in 1998. In Europe, Equal Pay Day is March 12 this year, showing that European women are closer to equality than we are in the United States.

Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 reaffirmed the Equal Pay Act, signed by President John F. Kennedy a year earlier on June 10, 1963.  That  legislation “prohibits discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers,” and the 1964 act prohibits employer discrimination on sex, race, religion, and/or nationality. Yet women who work full time in the U.S. make an average of 77 cents for every dollar men make. Black and Hispanic women make much less, and the disparity is growing. Hispanics currently make 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes. Even considering factors contributing to the gap such as industry, education, college major, and location, men are still paid 7 percent more than women.

Young women who recently graduated from college earn only 82 percent of the salaries of their recently graduated male counterparts who studied the same majors, completed the same degrees, and entered the same occupations. In 2012, personal care and service work was the only one of 265 major occupations in which women made, on average, more than men.

Lisa Maatz, AAUW Vice President of Government Relations, wrote about the gender pay gap:

  1. The pay gap hasn‘t budged in a decade.
  2. Women in every state experience the pay gap, but some states are worse than others—Wyoming at the bottom with women paid 64 percent of what men were paid in 2012.
  3. The pay gap grows with age, beginning with 90 percent until age 35 and then dropping.
  4. The pay gap also exists among women without children.

Republicans argue that the issue is a distraction and that the proposed legislative solution is unnecessary. Texas Gov. Rick Perry used this argument when he appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, calling the debate in the state governor’s race “nonsense,” saying the Democrats should focus on “substantive issues.” The gubernatorial candidates are Perry’s friend, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and the woman who filibustered against abortion restrictions for 11 hours, state Sen. Wendy Davis. Perry is considering another presidential run in 2016.

To protect Texas retailers, Perry  vetoed a bill last year to allow victims of wage discrimination to sue in state court. The Texas Retailers Association and the Texas Association of business and the National Federation of Independent Businesses secretly requested the gubernatorial veto. The bill would have benefited people in the state because they would have easier access and less expense in state courts. Retailers objected to including retirement checks that weren’t included in the bill.

Also ignoring women voters, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, asked what the Paycheck Fairness Act would do for men.

Conservatives use a variety of arguments in their attempts trying to show that there is no pay inequality between men and women: different career paths, more overtime in male-dominated blue-collar work, fewer hours worked by women. These arguments don’t consider the research in pay difference when both men and women with the same skills work the same jobs for the same number of hours and in the same conditions. Women are also punished if they ask about wage differences, keeping them from trying to get equal pay.

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly called unequal gender pay a “meme,” and Dana Loesch said it is a “myth.” Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is struggling with re-election as Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin forces him to the right, calls gender equality in pay a “bizarre obsession.” McConnell will likely win the primary in a few weeks, but then he’s up against Alison Lundergan Grimes.

McConnell already voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010 which doesn’t fit well with his statement that he’s always supported women. His record says otherwise as he voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and against renewing the Violence against Women Act in 2013. In Kentucky, women make only 72 cents for every man’s dollar. Luckily for McConnell he’s raking in the donations, even from dead people.

In addition to claiming that equal pay would be a “burden” on employers, the GOP talking point is that Democrats didn’t bother to do anything about it when they had a majority in both chambers of Congress and the presidency. The statement is wrong, either through ignorance or lying. When the Dems brought up the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010, it passed with House, then controlled by the Democrats, although 97 percent of the GOP voted against it. In the Senate, the bill got only 58 votes, two votes short of the new “majority” of 100 senators because of the filibuster. The Democrats tried again in 2012, but failed. This week if the Senate passes the Paycheck Fairness Act again, the GOP-controlled House needs only one person to vote it down—Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) when he refuses to bring it to the chamber.

If women earned equal pay for equal work, the country’s economy would boost GDP by 2.9 percent or almost $450 billion and cut the poverty rate in half for working women.

The next time a person says, “We’re all for equal pay,” ask them why they don’t vote for it. If they say that women already have legal pay, ask them why they’re fighting a bill if it’s not any problem.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

AGR Daily 60 Second News Bites

Transformational News In 60 Seconds; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: