Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) joined Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and five Democratic women of the Senate today to urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Today is Equal Pay Day, meaning that women on average have to work until the end of the day today to warn as much as their white, male counterparts earned by the close of last year.
The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) is legislation that would greatly lessen the gender pay gap experienced by women in the work force, as well as prevent retaliation against women seeking pay parity. The PFA, introduced in the Senate in 2013, would prohibit retaliation for sharing pay information, as well as require employers to prove that any pay disparity is not on the basis of sex. It has since been blocked by Republicans in the Senate more than once.
Senator Mikulski has been working on the issue of providing equal pay for equal work throughout the nearly three decades that she has been in office. In her speech, Mikulski emphasized the many ways the American economy would benefit from eliminating the gender pay gap. “You want to alleviate poverty? Equal pay for equal work!” she said, adding some of the findings of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which found that pay parity would cut in half the poverty rate of working single moms. “We are tired of being sidelined, red lined, pink slipped, harassed, and intimidated,” Mikulski declared.
DeLauro spoke on her frustration in the minimal improvements to lessen the gender pay gap since the Equal Pay Act passed more than 50 years ago. “The gap has barely budged in over a decade,” DeLauro said. “It’s not an abstract problem, and it hurts people on a daily basis.” DeLauro cited specifically a study released last month, which showed that even in the female-dominated profession of nursing, men make significantly more than women.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to Twitter to show her support for Equal Pay Day and the Paycheck Fairness Act, writing “Equal Pay Day is a day to call on America’s leaders to ensure that hard working women receive fair compensation for their work.”
“100 percent of Democrats in the House are now co-sponsors on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Where are the Republicans?” asked Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “How long must women wait for equal pay?”
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 1/24/13; 7/16/14; IWPR 3/26/15; USA Today 3/25/15;