November 11, 2010 by Ilene H. Lang
Catalyst's Statement on Blockage of Paycheck Fairness Act in US Senate
A crucial bill targeting the gender pay gap in the United States was blocked today as too few senators voted to move forward with the legislation. Among other remedies, the Paycheck Fairness Act would have required employers to provide an explanation for wage differences between women and men doing the same type of work. Today, women working full-time and year round are paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. This harms women, their families and American business. The Act’s blockage represents a defeat for this nation’s working women, and our economy.
The gender pay gap will persist in the United States until 2058 if we fail to act. Equality—and equity—can’t wait.
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Technologies keep marching forward, but companies do not. Today, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And the rate of change is glacially slow: less than half a cent a year. At this pace, it will take until 2058 for full-time wages between women and men to be equal.
Who’s got 48 years to wait for equality?
A 23-cent-a-dollar difference today adds up over the span of a career. Over 40 years, a woman in the United States will lose an average of $431,000 in pay. This is money that could be spent on doctor’s visits, tuition fees, cars, and just about anything that keeps us healthy and happy and our economy ticking.
The stakes are high—that’s why Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act when it comes up for a vote in Congress later this month.
Critics claim that the Equal Pay Act of 1963 gives women enough protection from wage discrimination. When this law was passed, full-time working women made 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Forty-seven years later, the gap closed by only 18 cents! Does this law seem effective to you?
The Equal Pay Act has loopholes big enough to drive trucks through, and the Paycheck Fairness Act plugs them. The new act would require employers to provide an explanation for wage differences between women and men doing the same type of work, ensure that women can obtain the same legal remedies as those subject to racial or ethnic discrimination, bolster the federal collection of wage data, and prohibit retaliation against workers who ask bosses about their wages.
Pay gaps should be a thing of the past, not an everyday reality for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. Too much is at stake. The Paycheck Fairness Act was already approved by the House, and the Senate is poised to act on it as soon as November 17, 2010.