New Jersey Senator Urges Federal Action on Paycheck Fairness Act
TRENTON – Noting that today marks the day, nation-wide, when women workers’ wages catch up to what their male counterparts made in 2009, State Senator Loretta Weinberg urged federal lawmakers to make this year’s “Equal Pay Day” the last, through swift enactment of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“The fact that women in this country have to work 70 work days more than their male colleagues just to break even should be more than enough reason to move quickly on the Paycheck Fairness Act,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “When President Obama took office, his first order of business was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, creating a fairer, more realistic standard by which to judge pay discrimination cases in court. While the Ledbetter Act helped restore sanity to the court protections for equal pay, the Paycheck Fairness Act will move us towards actual pay equity in the workplace and real wage fairness for all American workers.”
Senator Weinberg said that when the original Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law, women were earning only 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by their male co-workers performing the same job. When the Ledbetter Act was signed last year, women employees earned 78 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.
“While we’ve made some small measure of progress in the last forty years, women workers cannot wait an additional 53 years until our wages have finally caught up,” said Senator Weinberg. “We need equitable pay today, not 53 years from now.”
Senator Weinberg said that arguments against pay equity while the nation recovers from a global recession “ring hollow.” She said that many families depend on two incomes, and pay equity for women could create a more stable middle class, and greater wealth and prosperity nationwide.
“The greatest tool we have to overcome the crippling effects of national recession is fair pay for women workers,” said Senator Weinberg. “To use one of the darkest economic periods of our country to deny women a basic civil right to fair pay is shameful, because we know greater pay equity would allow struggling families a little bit of breathing room in a difficult economy.”
Senator Weinberg said that the Paycheck Fairness Act would update the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and would go a long way to provide pay equity in the workplace. The legislation would close loopholes in the original legislation which have allowed employers to perpetuate the double pay standard in the workplace, would increase the penalties for violations of pay equity, would strengthen whistleblower protections for workers seeking to create pay fairness at their place of business, and would allow for wage comparisons between employees in similar jobs within a defined geographical area, in order to determine what fair pay is for the region. The Paycheck Fairness Act was approved by the House of Representatives in January of 2009 by a vote of 256-163 – a larger bipartisan vote margin than the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act – and is pending before the U.S. Senate.
“On this Equal Pay Day of 2010, I challenge our federal lawmakers to once and for all strike a blow for pay equity for all workers, regardless of race, creed or gender,” said Senator Weinberg. “It’s long past time that we embrace pay equity for all American workers. We owe it to our daughters and granddaughters to right this social wrong and ensure that everyone has a chance to earn a living based on their qualifications – not their gender.”