Unfair to Women and the Economy

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Sen. Barbara Mikulski - the longest serving woman in Congress- speaks out about the gender wage gap.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski – the longest serving woman in Congress- speaks out about the gender wage gap.

Republicans in the U. S. Senate blocked the measure that would have helped ensure equal pay for equal work. And, to add insult, they did so on Equal Pay Day, April 8, the day when women, on average, caught up to what men, on average earned the previous year. It still takes women better than 15 months to earn what men doing equal work can earn in 12.

The vote came after Washington’s Sen. Patty Murray delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would address pay discrimination by ramping up enforcement of equal pay laws and would strengthen assistance to businesses to improve equal pay practices. The bill would do things like prohibit retaliation against employees who share their salary information, require better collection of wage data focused on race and gender factors and require employers to show legitimate reasons for pay differences between men and women other than their gender.

As Sen. Murray pointed out, nationally women are earning 77 cents on the dollar to do the same work as their male counterparts. In the Seattle area, the gender pay gap is even wider: women earn 73 cents on the dollar, the worst pay differential in any metropolitan area. Sen. Murray noted that this is not only unfair to women and their families, but it also is a loss to the national economy. If a Seattle woman earned the same as her male counterpart, she’d take home $16,346 more a year.As she said, “Workers should be compensated based on how they do their jobs, not whether they are male or female.”  She vowed that equal pay for equal work is going to remain at the forefront of her agenda and that of Senate democrats. Said Sen. Murray, “This isn’t over.”

This shameful injustice is bound to catch up to those who blocked the fairness act. Women now make up nearly half of the workforce and often are the primary breadwinner for their families. They deserve to be treated fairly in the workplace and by their representatives in Congress.