Happy Equal Pay Day! For all of you women out there, this is how far into 2016 you’ve worked to make your 2015 salary stack up with the average man’s in your same occupation. In case you’ve forgotten, women are STILL making just 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. For women of color, this problem is even worse.
What’s being done to reduce the pay gap?
In 2014, the DFL led legislature and Governor Dayton passed the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) to reduce the pay gap and enact protections for women and families in the workplace. This was a great start towards making the workplace more fair, but there’s more work to do.
So why aren’t we seeing more progress?
It doesn’t help the issue that many Republicans, like Second Congressional district candidate Jason Lewis, don’t believe the wage gap exists: “The claim that women can legally receive unequal pay for equal work has been an out and out falsehood since 1963.”
While debating pay equity at the legislature, then lawmaker Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury), said, “We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all of these special bills for women and almost making us seem like whiners.”
And let’s not forget Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) who said, “we need to provide greater opportunities for women, not greater regulations.”
48 Republicans voted against WESA in 2014. It’s pretty clear the GOP’s corporate backers stand to lose profits if they have to pay women equally, so it makes sense that Republicans would avoid the issue. Luckily, unlike most Republicans, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are calling for equal pay for equal work at the federal level.
Women should take note the politics of this issue next time they hit the polls, and men should too, as many of them probably would like their sisters/wives/mothers/daughters/friends to be paid fairly.
Together, we can demand equal pay for equal work and continue down a path that makes the economy work better for everyone, not just the wealthy.