Friday, April 15, 2016

Cleaver: We must close the wage gap between men and women

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

On Tuesday, we marked Equal Pay Day, the day when, more than three months into the year, women’s wages finally catch up to what men were paid in the previous year. Once again, I call on all Members of Congress to come together in support of the passage of the critical Paycheck Fairness Act. More must be done to close the wage gap that still exists between women and men.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, the women in our state of Missouri still earn only 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by men. And nationwide, women earn only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, putting Missouri behind the national average. The Equal Pay Act was passed in June of 1963, but a new study finds that women won’t see pay equity with men until 2059, based on the rate that the pay gap has been closing since 1960.
Today, women make up about half of the workforce, and it is wrong that on average they are still being paid less than men. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. While women’s role in our economy has changed dramatically, America’s workplaces have simply not kept up.

I am a proud cosponsor, along with every other House Democrat, of the critical Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to help women finally achieve equal pay for equal work, by strengthening and closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers; require employers to show that pay disparity is truly job-related, not based on gender; strengthen remedies for women experiencing pay discrimination; and empower women in the workplace through a grant program to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills.

We must do something real about closing the wage gap – by taking up the Paycheck Fairness Act for full consideration. Equal pay is not simply a woman’s issue – it is a family issue. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families. We should not rest until we achieve true pay equity for women – ensuring that all American women in the workforce are receiving equal pay for equal work.

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