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By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – As a slap in the face to women on Equal Pay Day today, Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act for women – for the third time. The measure failed due to lack of a single Republican vote. The bill had aimed to provide more effective remedies for women who are paid less than men for the same work.

California's Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, support the bill.  On the House side, San Diego Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis is pushing for passage of a similar measure,  H.R. 377.  San Diego Democratic Congressman Scott Peters is a cosponsor of the bill, which local Democratic Congressman Juan Vargas also supports.  

East County Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has previously voted no on a similar paycheck fairness measure for women, along with San Diego Republican Darrell Issa.

“When women succeed, America succeeds,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  “Equal pay is not just a women’s issue – it’s also a family issue.  Families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet.  Equal Pay Day should be a reminder to everyone that in order to strengthen the middle class we need to ensure fairness in America.”

Along with cosponsoring the bill, Davis signed a petition to demand a vote on H. R. 377 in the House, where the Republican leadership has thus far blocked the measure from being brought up for a vote.

Republican leaders have claimed the measure isn’t necessary because wage discrimination is already illegal.  But without teeth in enforcement laws, discrimination appears likely to continue.

Legislation signed by President Kennedy a half century ago required that women and men be paid equally for performing the same work. But 50 years later, women are still earning only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

According to one analysis by the Department of Labor’s Chief Economist, a typical 25-year-old woman working full time would have already earned $5,000 less over the course of her working career than a typical 25-year old man. If that earnings gap is not corrected, by age 65, she will have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars over her working lifetime. Women earn less than men in every state and region of the country, and for women of color the gap is even larger. 

African-American women earn even less at 67 cents compared to men. The wage gap grows even larger for Latina women who earn just 60 cents on the dollar to men.  

For Equal Pay Day, the President took an historic step toward closing the pay gap by signing two executive orders to make it easier for women to determine whether they are being underpaid compared to their male counterparts.

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Again...Think clearly, check the facts first!

A gentle prompt to miriamg and ECM to again, check facts, and put biased preferences aside. It is National Women's Law Center who is misleading in this particular case. Yes, there is work to be done on this issue, however this law will not fix it. See the facts in these links below - from Fox News and directly in a study done for the U.S. Department of Labor! There are other balanced responses to the NWLC perpetuated myths out there. My only point is do your research carefully on ALL issues, and be careful about believing all of what ECM reports - it is usually a one sided report. Think clearly folks!

Think clearly, check the facts first!

Ironically, Fox News did a well balanced expose on this issue less than a week ago, using neutral analysis and multiple data reports. It showed that to correctly assess men's and women's pay is a complex issue - multiple variables need to be considered including very different choices men and women make in lifestyle, family, and other related issues related to their jobs. Ultimately it showed that the difference in men's and women's pay scale is actually only about 3% when all variables are taken into account. It did acknowledge that there is still work to be done to be fair to all, and encouraged clear, careful thinking. Good government policy needs to be driven by careful, balanced, un-emotional analysis and decision making. Lesson learned - look at issues using facts and reliable information! (The way this story is presented in ECM is inflammatory, emotional, and does not represent the facts well - note the angry photos and how men and women are depicted - women as angry and men as goofballs. ECM would be best served to do more BALANCED research and better journalism on this issue. It would be nice to know what the Democrats and Republicans are SPECIFICALLY proposing in the laws, that are different.)

Fox's report perpetuates myths and discrimination against women.

I trust the National Women's Law Center far more. Here is what they have to say--and they debunk the myths. Their site has footnotes to document every statement made below, too.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination by protecting employees who voluntarily share pay information with colleagues from retaliation, fully compensating victims of sex-based pay discrimination, empowering women and girls by strengthening their negotiation skills, and holding employers more accountable under the Equal Pay Act. Opponents of the Paycheck Fairness Act have put forth rhetoric about the bill that is misleading – this document contrasts the various myths about the bill and explains what the Paycheck Fairness Act would accomplish in reality.

Myth: The bill would require employers to cut the salaries of their male employees.

Fact: The Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from lowering the wages of men to make up for discrimination against women. In fact, the first paragraph of the Act states: An “employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.”  The bill does nothing to disturb this longstanding rule.

Myth: The bill is unnecessary because there is no wage gap. 

Fact: American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.  This gap in earnings translates into $10,784 less per year in median earnings, leaving women and their families shortchanged. 

The wage gap is even more substantial when race and gender are considered together, with African-American women making only 62 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. The wage gap is not merely a matter of choice in occupation – women typically are paid less than men in the same occupation.  This is the case whether that occupation pays high or low wages, whether they work in traditionally male occupations, traditionally female occupations, or occupations with an even mix of men and women.

Numerous studies show that even when all relevant career and family attributes are taken into account, there is still a significant, unexplained gap in men’s and women’s earnings. Thus, even when women make the same career choices as men For nearly 50 years, the Equal Pay Act has made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act as well as other civil rights laws has helped to narrow the wage gap, significant disparities remain and need to be addressed. Women today still make only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. And for women of color, the gap is even larger.A study of college graduates one year after graduation determined that women earned only 95 percent of what men earned, even after accounting for variables such as “job and work - place, employment experience and continuity, education and training, and demographic and personal characteristics.” 

Myth: The bill would subject employers to criminal penalties for refusing to disclose wage information.

Fact: No part of the bill provides for criminal penalties for employers for any conduct. But pay disparities often go unnoticed because employers forbid employees from sharing wage information with each other. The bill enhances employees’ ability to learn about wage discrimination by merely banning retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages. It does not ban pay secrecy policies altogether – in fact, employers with access to colleagues’ wage information in the course of their work, such as human resources employees, may still be prohibited from sharing that information.

Myth: The bill requires the government to set salaries for federal employers. 

Fact: Nothing in the Paycheck Fairness Act allows the federal government to set salaries for any private employer. But the tools for detecting and addressing pay disparities under the Equal Pay Act have been limited by courts over time. For example, courts have opened loopholes in the defenses that employers are permitted to raise when seeking to justify a decision to not pay workers equal wages for doing substantially equal work. Some courts have said that an employer may justify paying unequal wages even if there is no business reason for paying men and women unequal salaries.

The bill also would require the Department of Labor to reinstate a survey instru - ment that will help the Department detect and remedy wage discrimination by federal contractors and would serve as a critical tool in the federal government’s effort to enforce civil rights laws. Myth: There is no need for the bill after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Fact: The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restored the protection against pay discrimination stripped away by the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear . But, even after the Act, our existing equal pay laws remain weak - ened by a series of other court decisions and insufficient federal tools to detect and combat wage discrimination. The Act made clear that each discriminatory paycheck, not just an employer’s original decision to engage in pay discrimination, resets the period of time during which a worker may file a pay discrimination claim.  The steps taken in the Ledbetter Act are essential, as they enable workers to bring wage discrimina - tion cases again. But the Ledbetter Act simply returned the law to what it was prior to the Court’s decision. And wage disparities go undetected because employers maintain policies that punish employees who voluntarily share salary information with their coworkers.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would update the Equal Pay Act by closing loopholes in the law and ensuring that workers will no longer be punished simply for talking about their own wages.

Wage discrimination

Back in 1975 when I had my first job I was discriminated against based on being a woman. I was told that men in the music store worked in the keyboard department earning commissions on top of salaries, but the "girls' had to work in sheetmusic and records. Even when I got an enlightened assistant manager to teach me how to take a piano apart and put it back together and write up contracts and made my first sale, earning a spot on the sales team even though the manager got upset I'd done this, I was still never allowed to earn as much as my male colleagues. I was told they had families to support and I didn't. Putting myself through college didn't count as important in their eyes. This was illegal then, but I was young and didn't know it. I just knew that it was wrong. This is why we need reporting of incomes so the government can track this kind of discrimination. What is wrong with these Neanderthal values in men in Congress who think discrimination against women is okay in an era when so many women are now heads of households? Our daughters over a lifetime of discrimination statistically will earn $100,000 less than our sons. And don't give me that garbage about women taking time out to raise kids. I never had that luxury. I worked, albeint writing journalism assignments and books at home, from the time my oldest was just 3 months old. I had childcare costs to go out on interviews and for women who work outside the home their costs are even more -- if anything they should be paid MORE than men one could argue. If Congressional members don't get an earful on this issue the discrimination will just go on and on. Click the "Citizens Action Center" button at the top of our website if you want to contact your Congressional representative.