Continuing the Fight for Pay Equity

Filed in Workplace Rights by on November 17, 2010 5 Comments

Earlier today, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on S. 3772 – the Paycheck Fairness Act – by a margin of 58-41.

I am deeply disappointed that the Senate did not pass this important piece of legislation, but the issue of pay equity is far too important to give up. I remain committed to the fight for this commonsense reform, and my department will redouble its efforts to ensure America’s women are not treated as second class citizens by employers who refuse to compensate them in a fair and equitable manner.

While the Senate fell short of the mark today, it is important to note that the Paycheck Fairness Act was approved by the House of Representatives almost two years ago.  The bill was specifically designed to address the persistent gap between men’s and women’s wages.  It tackles that challenge by enhancing enforcement and by closing loopholes in the 47-year old Equal Pay Act.

Since the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, the issue of women’s pay has grown even more serious.  Today, women are the sole or co-wage earner in two-thirds of American households.  And, for a growing number of families, equal pay for women is not just a matter of principle.  It is a matter of survival.

Despite decades of efforts since 1963, the wage gap has narrowed from 59 cents for each dollar a man makes to a still unbelievably paltry 77 cents in 2010. It is equally shocking that the gap has closed only 5 cents in the past 20 years.  At that pace, it will take almost 100 more years for women to achieve pay equity.  The situation is even worse for women of color.  In fact, today, African-American women make 69 cents for every dollar made by a man.  Latinas make just 60 cents.

When women first start working, the wage gap is usually small, and some groups of women have earnings on par with men.  However, the gap grows substantially as men and women progress in their careers.  Men get larger raises and promotions.  And, even when women keep pace with promotions, they still fall behind in pay. That has major long-term economic implications.  By the age of 65, the typical full-time working woman has about $365,000 less in earnings relative to a full-time working man.  This gap in earnings follows women into retirement, resulting in smaller pensions and lower Social Security.

As President Obama has said, “Equal pay is by no means just a women’s issue — it’s a family issue. …  And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month’s paychecks to simple discrimination.”

As a nation, we must continue to pursue pay equity with passion and determination.  We owe it to women in America — those of years past, who worked so hard to build our country; those who carry that task on today; and, certainly, those who will shape our future in the workplace of tomorrow.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Dave Porter says:

    The Senate’s failure to invoke cloture on S. 3772 – the Paycheck Fairness Act, is an embarrassment to those of us committed to professional pay equity for all. It is incredible that in a society where women have risen to professional prominence that this discriminatory practice, this bill, or this blog entry should have ever had to happen. But 58 senators appear to lack clarity objectivity or grasp on what fairness in pay equity means.
    Fairness means that when a job is posted and it’s pay rate stated, it cannot be compromised by any conditions except contractual adjustments agreed to by employer and employee.
    Objectivity means that both parties are informed and understand the original financial commitments the employer assigned to that job so fair compromises can be made.
    Grasp means, that failure to adhere to contractual obligations established fairly or objectively constitute violations in both the equal pay and Paycheck Fairness Act.
    As the president of a not-for-profit entity that works to promote small business development for people with disabilities, I have long been tuned in on the struggles women have endured in attaining societal equity. I try to model our initiatives on past undertakings in that struggle. As unjust and unfair as the pay equity imbalance is for women, those numbers for disabled employees are off the charts.
    In fact they’re so far off the charts that we lack accurate measures or compiled past data to build a supportable case for this disparity. At present I’m running with somewhere between a 30 and 50 cents on the expended dollar disability pay discrepancy vs. your 70 cents.
    A dollars work warrants a dollar’s pay. 30, 50 or 70 cents on it is simply not fair. We need to push for balance and equity in pay for all.
    We need the Equal Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act to include fairness and pay equity for disabled employees.

  2. Mary A. Dunlap says:

    Do women have to pay the same amount of of money for the same eduacation as a man? Yes, I am a full time student and I pay what the men next to me pay, so therefore, when I am out of school, why is it that I will earn less for the same education. Oh, by the way, my GPA is higher, and they come to me for homework advise!

  3. Venetta says:

    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!

    I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it.
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    you post…

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