POP QUIZ: Does Equal Work Mean Equal Pay in U.S.?

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POP QUIZ: Does Equal Work Mean Equal Pay in U.S.?

Written: 06/07/2012

Imagine you are back in high school – say 10th grade.  Maybe you ARE in high school now.  It’s the beginning of the school year and you have two new teachers – fresh faced and ready to begin their teaching careers and shape minds and change the world!  One is your 2nd period English teacher Mrs. Oliver and the other is your 7th period math teacher Mr. Peapples.  Do the same job, write lesson plans, grade exams and homework.  Neither has a raise for merit pay or tenure because they have the same experience.
 
They take home the same amount in salary right?  Identical.  Can’t be different right?  They both do the same job.
 
Same pay for the same job?  Got to be!  This is America the land of the free the home of the brave, Reagan’s beacon on a hill for all the world to see!
 
Well, if the national average and statistics hold the answer is no.  No they do not make the same salary.
 
NOTE:  The teacher example above is to give illustration of statistics. 
 
In America in 2012 equal work does not equal equal pay.
 
In 2012 statistics show women make 77% of what men do when they perform the same job.  In this example if Mr. Peapples makes $35,000/year, Mrs. Oliver makes $26,950.  That difference is a little more than EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. That difference in salary means less money for rent or mortgage, groceries, car payments, less money for leisure activities or family vacations.  As we know, some families only have one income – many spouses of workers can’t find work.   Others are single mothers or fathers or widows or widowers.
 
This is discrimination.  This is inequality. This is sexism.  This is unacceptable.
 
Let’s see what Congress is doing about it!

But first … some history …
 
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act, which made it “illegal to pay men and women different wage rates for equal work on jobs that require equal skill effort, and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions.”  Illegal.  This law made it illegal to pay men and women different wages for the same job.  In 1963.  The following year The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.  Title VII of the Act “attacks sex discrimination more broadly than the Equal Pay Act extending not only to wages but to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Thus with the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, an employer cannot deny women equal pay for equal work; deny women transfers, promotions, or wage increases; manipulate job evaluations to relegate women’s pay; or intentionally segregate men and women into jobs according to their gender.” In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which gives women more time to file lawsuits against employers they suspect of discrimination.
 
If it was illegal as of 1963 to pay men and women differently for the same job let’s look at the statistics.   In 1970, women earned 62% of what men earned.  In 2004, women earned 80% of what men earned.  And as noted in 2012 women make 77% of men earn.
 
Ah yes as promised: What is Congress doing about it!
 
You probably didn’t hear about this yesterday – ever news station turned their eyes to the Wisconsin for the Scott Walker Recall Election (he won)  – but the Senate voted yesterday on the Paycheck Fairness Act. The act would expand the scope of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of an effort to address male–female income disparity in the United States  .  It was passed by the House in January 2009. The Senate failed to move the bill forward in November 2010. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011.  Yesterday the Republicans enacted a filibuster to prevent an up and down vote on the bill.  The bill needed 60 votes to pass and in the end the vote was 52-47, with no Republican support. None.  Not one vote.
 
There is one politician in Washington DC that is a fervent advocate for equal pay for equal work.  He is the one politician who gets blamed for almost everything in the federal government while more Americans need to hold their Congressional representatives accountable.  This advocate gets the last word.  The floor is yours, Mr. President.
 
“This afternoon, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense piece of legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.  It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families. Despite the progress that has been made over the years, women continue to earn substantially less than men for performing the same work.  My administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work, as we rebuild our economy so that hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded and every American gets a fair shot to succeed.”
 
PS:  The man who would like to replace President Obama in the White House has made no statement on this issue.