From U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
MIKULSKI VOWS TO CONTINUE FIGHT FOR EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK AFTER REPUBLICAN FILIBUSTER OF PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT
Senator introduced pay equity legislation to close wage gap costing women $434,000 over their careers
“A special message to the women: Let’s suit up. Let’s square our shoulders. Let’s put our lipstick on and fight for equal pay that won’t be stopped,” Senator says
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Dean of the Senate women, vowed to continue to fight for equal pay for equal work after Senate Republicans filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. The legislation failed to overcome a procedural hurdle on Monday by a vote of 52 to 40. Senator Mikulski introduced the legislation to help close the wage gap between women and men working equivalent jobs, costing women and their families $434,000 over their careers.
“There they go again. Whenever we women fight for fair pay, we are either sidelined, redlined, or pushed aside,” Senator Mikulski said. “Once again, as I have said before, when we have had a setback, we are going to fight. We are going to fight on the Senate floor, we are going to take this to the people in the country, we are going to fight it through the elections and we are going to fight it through the community. I am going to say to every single person in the United States of America: Be part of this movement.”
While women still make on average 77 cents to every dollar made by a male, the Paycheck Fairness Act would build on the promise of the Equal Pay Act, passed more than 50 years ago on June 10, 1963. It would help close the pay gap by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, closing loopholes courts have created in the law, creating strong incentives for employers to obey the laws and strengthening federal outreach and enforcement efforts.
State-by-state data on the wage gap is available here.
In January, President Obama renewed his call for Congress to pass the legislation in his State of the Union Address. The legislation would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work have a business justification and are truly a result of factors other than gender. The bill would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.
The Paycheck Fairness Act also would strengthen the Department of Labor’s (DOL) ability to help women achieve pay equity by requiring DOL to enhance outreach and training efforts to work with employers in order to eliminate pay disparities and to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender. The bill would also create a competitive grant program to provide negotiation skills training programs for girls and women.
Senator Mikulski’s full remarks on the Senate floor, as delivered, follow:
“Well, there is the Senate. There they go again. Whenever we women fight for fair pay, we are either sidelined, redlined, or pushed aside.
“We, moving for paycheck fairness, feel the way women feel every single day in the workplace. When they are trying to get equal pay for equal work, they are either not listened to or there is some kind of reason to make sure the discussion never comes up. Once again, because of eight votes separating, we could not debate paycheck fairness.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act is a bill that would finish the job we started with Lilly Ledbetter.
“This is not right. When women are out there trying to earn equal pay for equal work, they should have the opportunity to do so. Now they feel stymied. In Lilly Ledbetter, we took the first step to right this wrong, but it was not the only step.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act closes the innumerable loopholes that prevent women from being able to get equal pay for equal work. All we wanted to do was bring up the bill to debate it, to amend it, and then vote on final passage. We could not get cloture on the filibuster. Those are wonky parliamentary words that said we could have unlimited debate.
“If we had gotten cloture under our rules there would have been 30 hours of debate. I think that is enough time. There could have been amendments but, guess what, they had to be germane; that is, pertinent to the bill, or they had to be relevant or pertinent to the bill. What is wrong with that? That is not a gag rule. That is not muzzling anybody.
“No, no, it wasn’t good enough. Do you know why we didn’t get cloture? They didn’t want to bring up this bill for a final vote or amendments. They are hiding behind parliamentary procedure.
“Do you know what? Our paycheck fairness bill was so simple and stayed straightforward. Do you know what it would have done? It would have prevented retaliation against workers for sharing information about their wages. Right now, the most secret thing in our country is not only our national security, but what you make. You can’t discuss your wages with the person next to you. So if a woman was trying to figure out what the guy next to her was making, and he wanted to tell her, both could have been fired. Her for asking and him for telling. We wanted to close that loophole.
“The other thing the bill would do is prevent employers from being able to use almost any reason to justify paying a woman less. For years, employers have exploited loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, inventing any number of reasons why a woman should be paid less. It would also prevent women from being limited to just back pay when they are discriminated against. Those are the three major issues.
“In the United States of America, when we said all men and women were created equal, we have to be able to be equal. And one of the most important places you are equal is in the workplace. So if women are doing the same job, we ought to get the same pay. That is the American way.
“But once again we were stymied. Once again they tried to push us back.
“I am going to say this today on behalf of myself, the majority of the women in the Senate, and many of the great guys in the Senate: They want to make sure that today’s vote doesn’t say we are stopping this fight. Once again, we are going to reach out to the grassroots, particularly to the women of America, to join in the fight to change the Federal law books so women can get change in the family checkbooks. They can try to stop us on the floor, but they cannot stop our movement.
“Once again, as I have said before, when we have had a setback, we are going to fight. We are going to fight on the Senate floor, we are going to take this to the people in the country, we are going to fight it through the elections and we are going to fight it through the community. I am going to say to every single person in the United States of America: Be part of this movement.
“A special message to the women: Let’s suit up. Let’s square our shoulders. Let’s put our lipstick on and fight for equal pay that won’t be stopped. We are going to do it. We are going to fight today. We are going to fight tomorrow. And I am combat ready.”