Economy Politics

Senators and President Obama Mark Equal Pay Day With Actions To Close Wage Gap

Today marks Equal Pay Day – the day women must work until to earn as much as their male counterparts had by December 31 of last year. Senators and President Obama are also marking today with actions to close the wage gap.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

President Obama proclaimed that today would be recognized as National Equal Pay Day –  the day up to which a woman must work in the current year to earn what men made during the previous year – and he plans to sign two executive actions that will work to close the wage gap. An executive order would prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation, and a memorandum would direct the Department of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to report summary data on compensation paid to employees by race and sex to the Department.

“Women make up nearly half of our Nation’s workforce and are primary breadwinners in 4 in 10 American households with children under age 18,” Obama said in his proclamation. “Yet from boardrooms to classrooms to factory floors, their talent and hard work are not reflected on the payroll.”

On average, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and women of color make even less. Black women earn just 64 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and Latina earn only 54 cents. The pay gap costs women about $434,000 over the course of their careers – impacting the ability of women to provide for their families and care for their loved ones. The pay gap also cuts into women’s Social Security, pensions, and retirement.

“The time has passed for us to recognize that what determines success should not be our gender, but rather our talent, our drive, and the strength of our contributions,” Obama added.

In addition, the Senate is expected to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act to a vote tomorrow. The Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to require all employers to demonstrate that any pay differences between men and women doing the same work are based on legitimate business reasons, and not based on sex. It would also end pay secrecy by prohibiting all employers – not just federal contractors – from retaliating against employees who share salary information. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will lead several other Democratic Senate women in giving floor speeches calling for its passage.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senators to Support the Paycheck Fairness Act! You can also join the Twitter storm today at 2PM EST in support of Equal Pay with @FemMajority!

Media Resources: The White House 4/7/14, 4/8/14; Senator Barbara Mikulski 4/7/14; Feminist Newswire 4/4/14, 4/7/14; Feminist Majority 4/3/14

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