Yesterday, Vermont passed a law that deals with a huge barrier to fighting workplace discrimination, punitive pay secrecy policies. Over 61 percent of private-sector workers prohibit or discourage discussions on wages amongst coworkers. Yet, comparing wages is one of the easiest ways to know if you are getting less than your due. When employees don't know how they compare to others, they may not even realize they are being paid less.
Vermont's law provides crucial elements to remove that barrier. It prevents employers from conditioning employment on an employees' promise not to disclose, inquire, or discuss their wages. Read more »
Just in time for Mother’s Day here comes the “Working Families Flexibility Act.” This bill is the Mother’s Day equivalent of coal in your stocking for Christmas. It takes hard-earned overtime pay out of working women and men’s pockets in exchange for the illusory promise of comp time.
While the bill’s supporters claim that there is nothing coercive about offering a comp time alternative to overtime pay, they do so against a backdrop of rampant violations of low-wage workers’ rights to overtime. In a study of low-wage workers in major cities, 76% said they worked overtime without being paid time and one-half. It is a safe bet that enacting a comp time law would give rise to a whole new category of wage and hour abuses. This wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing bill requires time-starved employees to work extra hours just to get time off to take care of their families, and gives employers decision-making power over when and whether they can take that time off. Read more »
As children, we all learn the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. This basic rule, however, appears to have been left out of Robert’s Rules of Order, a widely used authority on parliamentary procedure and the basis for many of the rules in the U.S. Congress. Of course, we need rules and order, but if you’ve ever seen the Prime Minister’s Questions on CSPAN then you understand that parliamentary procedure does not dictate collegiality.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on the rules of debate for H.R. 1120 – a bill concerning the functioning of the National Labor Relations Board. Unfortunately, a little discussion of the rules for debate in the House of Representatives is necessary, but I’ll keep it simple. For just about every bill introduced in the House, the Representatives first vote on the rules of debate for the bill. Before they take the vote, someone must “call the previous question” in order to end debate. Then the Representatives vote yes or no on the motion.
This is the kind of procedural rule that is confusing and obscure enough that the majority party in the House is able to use it to its advantage – and often does. This time it was used to prevent a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Doesn’t seem like they are following the Golden Rule now, does it?
It’s not too late, though! Yesterday morning, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) filed a discharge petition on the Paycheck Fairness Act that would force the bill to the House floor for a vote. Read more »
Today, thanks to the great work of Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Paycheck Fairness Act will come up in the House of Representatives. Yes, you heard that correctly – your Representatives will have a chance to vote in support of PFA today.
Take Action: Make a quick phone call to your Member of Congress! It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
Call the switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Ask to speak with your Representative. (Not sure who your representative is? Check here.)
When you get someone on the phone say: “Hi my name is ____________ and I’m a constituent. I would like to urge Representative _______ to stand up for women and vote in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act when it comes up later today.
It’s that simple. What are you waiting for? Read more »
Equal Pay Day – the day in the year when women’s wages finally catch up to men’s from the previous year – is finally here. That it took 92 days into 2013 for this day to arrive is downright depressing.
For those readers too busy working hard for 77 cents on the dollar to read our extensive policy analysis released for the occasion, here is the CliffsNotes version of what you need to know.
What’s behind the wage gap?
There are a number of factors that contribute to unfair pay for women: Some of the key culprits are discrimination resulting in lower pay for women doing the same jobs as men, occupational segregation of women into low-paying jobs that are devalued precisely because they are done by women, the economic hit that women still take for providing care to their families due to the lack of employer or government-provided paid leave and paid sick days, and racial disparities.
As a twenty-something woman with student loan debt, I think about money A LOT. So do my friends. It’s not uncommon for one of us to ask if we can hang out at someone’s house rather than at a happy hour to save money. It used to be that when we got together, sharing tips for saving and sympathizing about financial struggles were common topics of conversation, but talking about our pay was not. That is, until one day when we decided to set discomfort aside and put numbers on the table. It turned out that one of my friends was being paid significantly less than those of us with similar job responsibilities. That discussion gave her the information – and motivation – that she needed to successfully ask for and get a raise.
When employees can’t talk to their coworkers about what they are making, they have no way of knowing if they are being paid less. The Paycheck Fairness Act will ensure that employees can discuss pay without fear of retaliation. Read more »
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting AnnMarie Duchon. She testified before the House Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee that after learning she was being paid unfairly she was able to confirm the information with her coworkers and negotiate with her boss for a salary increase. Pretty impressive, right?
But unfortunately, the conversations had by AnnMarie would be banned in a lot of workplaces. In fact, a 2010 IWPR poll found that around half of private sector workers believe that they cannot share their salaries.
Policies and practices that keep women in the dark about pay disparities diminish their ability to enforce their rights to fair pay and allow unfair pay practices to flourish. My best evidence? Lilly Ledbetter. Goodyear, a federal contractor, had one of these insane punitive pay secrecy policies and Lilly Ledbetter worked there almost 20 years before learning that she was being paid less than her male coworkers. In case you’re counting, the money she lost not only hurt her ability to pay for basics like groceries and utilities, she is still losing money to this day because the discriminatory pay is reflected in her retirement. Read more »
On Tuesday, President Obama laid out an important economic agenda for women and families in his State of the Union address — expanding early education opportunities, advancing fair tax and budget policies, increasing the federal minimum wage, and passing both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Act.
This is a full and impressive agenda for President Obama's second term. But we're up for the challenge and we hope you are, too!
Expanding Early Education Opportunities — President Obama's early childhood initiative would expand access to critical early learning opportunities for millions of preschool age and young children across the country. This would help many low- and middle-income women and their families who are struggling to afford the early learning opportunities that put their children on a path to success.
Advancing Fair Tax and Budget Policies — President Obama called on Congress to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. This is especially important to women, because millions of hard-working women are struggling to lift their families out of poverty and cuts in funding for public services have cost women hundreds of thousands of jobs. We also need a tax system that fairly raises the revenue required to make these wise investments and stave off deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs women and their families count on.
Four years ago today President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, restoring the law that existed for decades in virtually every region of the country prior to the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The importance of the Ledbetter Act cannot be overstated – in the last 4 years, workers have once again been able to challenge unfair pay in court and pay discrimination claims around the country have been restored.
But even four years ago at the signing of the bill that bears her name, Lilly Ledbetter said the following: “With this bill in place, we now can move forward to where we all hope to be – improving the law, not just restoring it.” Those words are especially true today. The most recent data shows that woman working full time, year round are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. This is a statistic that is unchanged from not only four years ago, but this gap has remained the same for a decade. For women of color, it’s much worse, with the typical African-American woman paid 64 cents and the typical Latina woman paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to a white, non-Hispanic man. A gap in wages occurs at all education levels, after work experience is taken into account, and it gets worse as women’s careers progress.
If we pair these disturbing statistics with the severe limits to existing laws and policies it is even grimmer. Workers are frequently left in the dark about wage disparities, a problem that is exacerbated by employers that penalize their employees for revealing or discussing wages.In addition, even when women somehow muster enough information to prove discrimination, the remedies are extremely narrow. This means that there are too few incentives for employers to voluntarily comply with the law, and engaging in pay discrimination can be simply an unfortunate “cost” of doing business. Read more »
Eduardo Porter’s article last week in The New York Times, Motherhood Still a Cause of Pay Inequality, has a good discussion of the gender wage gap – it highlights the slowed progress in closing the gap and discusses many of the issues that contribute to women’s lower pay including occupational segregation, caregiving responsibilities, and discrimination.
However, Porter gets it wrong when he says that passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which failed to get a vote in the Senate last week, might actually increase women’s unemployment. As Fatima Goss Graves debunked this myth in our blog:
Opponents of the Paycheck Fairness Act complain that the bill will hurt the economy and increase unemployment among women. These are not new arguments when it comes to fair employment laws – in fact, some of these same arguments were made 50 years ago when the Equal Pay Act itself was passed.