On Equal Pay Day, Congressman Dan Kildee and Senator Gary Peters are standing with women, who still earn an average of 78 cents on the dollar compared to men.
Imagine if your year was more than 15 months long. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? Well, that’s the reality for too many American women who still do not earn the same salary as men do for the same work.
April 14, 2015 marks the day the average woman must work until she earns the same amount a man earned in 2014. On average, women earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. In Michigan, that figure is closer to 77 cents on the dollar. For women of color across the United States, that figure is even lower.
But Michigan members of the U.S. Congress are doing more than just pointing out the wage gap. They’re taking action. Congressman Dan Kildee and Senator Gary Peters are reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act as companion bills in the U.S. House and Senate, along with cosponsors in both chambers.
Rep. Kildee and Sen. Peters have both introduced previous versions of the Paycheck Fairness Act. In fact, Rep. Kildee introduced the same legislation in the 113th Congress, but Speaker John Boehner failed to bring the bill up for a vote.
Here’s what Congressman Kildee had to say in a release.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. It’s outrageous that in 2015, a woman is paid less for doing the same job a man does. Pay discrimination is wrong and hurts millions of hardworking families while also hindering the growth of our economy. Our country should be building an economy that works for everyone – including women and their families. Equal pay for equal work shouldn’t be a partisan issue and it’s my hope that Speaker Boehner and House Republican leadership will allow for a vote right away on this important legislation.
Building on the landmark Equal Pay Act signed into law in 1963, both the Senate and House versions of the Paycheck Fairness Act close loopholes and require employers to show pay disparity is strictly related to job performance, not gender. The bills prohibit employers from suing or punishing employees who share salary information with co-workers, which is allowed under current law. They also strengthen remedies for pay discrimination by allowing women to seek both back pay and punitive damages.
From Senator Peters:
Fighting wage inequality is critical to helping working families in Michigan get ahead, not just get by. With more and more households counting on a woman’s income to pay the bills and put food on the table, wage discrimination takes money away from the families women are working so hard to support. As a father, I want to ensure that my two daughters have the same opportunities as my son and their hard work will not be discounted simply because of their gender.
The Paycheck Fairness Acts include a grant program to help women strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills. The bills also require the Department of Labor to improve its outreach and training efforts to empower workers to challenge pay discrimination, and provide tools to assist with those efforts.
Congressman Kildee spoke on the House floor today, championing an end to pay discrimination.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a cosponsor of the House bill, issued this statement:
The Paycheck Fairness Act closes loopholes that still exist to ensure all Americans are earning equal pay for equal work. This is not just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families – groceries, rent, child care and doctors’ visits. When women succeed, America succeeds, and this equal pay day, we are calling on our colleagues to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the pay gap once and for all.
In related news, at the state level the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus is introducing a new, innovative package of legislation today aimed at bringing pay equity to Michigan.
Want to get involved? Sign the petition created by Senator Gary Peters and tell Congress you demand equal pay for equal work.
To learn more about the wage gap, why it exists and why we need change, check out this great explainer video from the Center for American Progress:
[Image credit: House Democrats via Flickr.]