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Equal Pay Act Celebrates 47 Years; Wage Gap Still Persists

June 10th marked the 47th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, the landmark legislation signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Women in the United States still only earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. The gap is even wider for African American and Latina women. There is also a significant wage gap between men of color and Caucasian men. In a statement honoring the anniversary, President Obama said, “All women – and their families – deserve equal pay. Women now make up nearly half of the nation’s workforce, most homes have two working parents, and 60 percent of all women work full-time.” He explained that in a time of economic crisis, it is unacceptable for inequality to further impede economic recovery. The US Senate is currently considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that has passed in the US House of Representatives. The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963and go beyond current protections for employees. Linda Meric, Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, writes on The Huffington Post that the law “would close loopholes, strengthen business incentives to end pay discrimination, prohibit retaliation against workers who share wage information, and bring the Equal Pay Act in line with other civil rights laws.” A coalition of feminist and labor groups are pushing for broad support for the bill in the Senate. On her website, Senator Mikulski (D-MD) said, “[The Paycheck Fairness Act] will help empower women to negotiate for equal pay, create strong incentives for employers to obey the laws already in place, and strengthen enforcement. It is time to recommit to closing the wage gap…I firmly believe that all forms of discrimination should be prohibited. I believe people should be judged by their individual skills, competence, unique talents and nothing else. And once you get that job because of your skills and talents you better get equal pay for equal work. It’s time to tell all of those who have suffered wage discrimination – it’s a new day!”

Sources:

The White House 6/10/10; The Huffington Post 6/10/10; Barbara Mikulski 4/16/10; Feminist Daily News 4/20/10

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