Once again, Republican senators are playing politics with women’s lives and livelihood. Except, when they play, we lose.
This week, all of the republican senators, including female Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Susan Collins (Maine), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) , voted to block the Paycheck Fairness Act from advancing in Congress. The bill, introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would have worked with the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to make important updates to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1963 Equal Pay Act.
Among its provisions, the Paycheck Fairness Act would:
- Require employers to demonstrate that disparity in pay between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are attributable to factors other than sex.
- Prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for sharing wage information with coworkers.
- Increase women’s ability to seek damages for gender-based wage discrimination.
- Authorize additional training to improve the ability of the EEOC to identify and address wage discrimination – including allowing for the collection of wage data by race, sex, and national origin.
- Establish a grant program to provide salary negotiation skills-training for girls and women.
Despite the persistent wage gap – women still on average earn 77¢ for every dollar our male counterparts earn – Republican senators held that the Paycheck Fairness Act would be unnecessary pile-on to existing legislation. Instead, they’d rather blame women for our poor girly choices:
According to Maine’s Susan Collins “we already have on the books the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which I did support. I believe that they provide adequate protections. I think this bill would result in excessive litigation that would impose a real burden, particularly on small businesses. So I think existing laws are adequate. In other cases, it may be due to personal decisions that women make to leave the workforce to raise children for a number of years and then return to the workforce, for example. I don’t think you can assume discrimination.”
No, Susan, let’s not just go assuming discrimination. Yet when “one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues, even when they work in the same field” (see the AAUW report Behind the Pay Gap) then I think it’s safe to say that something is up.
I guess for now, there’s Senator Mikulski’s rallying call:
“Put on your lipstick! Square your shoulders! Suit up and let’s fight for a new American revolution where women are paid for equal work! Let’s end wage discrimination in this century once and for all.”