As a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, the block vote by Senate Republicans stopping the bill on June 5 is disgraceful and an attack on fundamental economic fairness for women in America.
The Senate voted 52-47, falling eight votes short of the 60 needed to allow the bill to be considered for a full vote. Last week, House Republicans voted to stop the bill from receiving a full vote as well.
Republicans in Washington are so beholden to an anti-middle-class, anti-worker and anti-women ideology that they won’t even let a bill as simple as one helping women be treated equally in the workplace come to the floor for a vote. I have also co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a recent law that strengthened the right of women to challenge unfair pay in court. This is simply a matter of fundamental economic fairness – the Republican rejection of the Paycheck Fairness Act is nothing short of disgraceful.
Even Mitt Romney has said that he supports the concept of equal pay for women in the workplace, making the bill’s rejection by Senate and House Republicans even more shocking.
When I was a young woman starting a professional career in the 1960s, we took things like this for granted and there weren’t enough women in positions of power to speak up about it. Today as in then, this is simply a matter of fundamental economic fairness – there’s absolutely no reason that women shouldn’t be paid the same salary as men for the same work. This is a gross civil rights violation that’s out of step with our values as a nation and the role of women today as wage earners and leaders in their families and communities.
It doesn’t just hurt women, either – every child, husband and parent being supported by a woman in the workplace suffers because of this inequality.
The Paycheck Fairness Act (S.3220, H.R.1519) is a comprehensive bill that strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. The Paycheck Fairness Act is commonsense legislation that, among other things, would achieve the following:
- Better align key Equal Pay Act defenses with those in Title VII.
- Bring remedies available under the Equal Pay Act into line with remedies available under other civil rights laws.
- Make the requirements for class action lawsuits under the Equal Pay Act match those of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
- Protect whistleblower employees who share their own salary information at work from retaliation by an employer.
According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, on average, full-time working women earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men for equivalent work. If this earnings gap is not corrected, by the age of 65 years, the average working woman would have lost more than $430,000 over her working lifetime.
The wage gap is significantly higher for women of color, with African-American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man. This is a significant issue in my congressional district, which is approximately 20 percent African-American and 20 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2010 Census.
is the representative of New York’s Fourth Congressional District. She was first elected in 1996.