Friday, April 24, 2009

It’s 2009. Can’t we have men and women working in the same job earn the same wage?

At the beginning of this Congress, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill designed to finally secure equal pay for equal work for all Americans. But three months later, there is still silence from the Senate.

Congress quickly enacted the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law preserving remedies for victims of wage discrimination. The Ledbetter law restores employees’ right to have their day in court to fight pay disparities – a right that had been virtually taken away after a Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. But why should women have to FIGHT for the pay they deserve?

So here comes “Equal Pay Day 2009.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act that would give employees the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself. On average, it took a woman all of 2008 and almost four more months into 2009 – until April 28, 2009 – to earn the same amount that a man earned in 2008 alone.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn, on average, 78 cents for every dollar men earn. For African-American women and Latinas, the numbers are even worse.

At the current rate of “progress,” it could take decades before women reach equal pay and achieve the end of Equal Pay Day, if nothing is done.

Economist Evelyn Murphy estimates that chronic wage discrimination will deprive a woman of between $700,000 and $2 million over a career. This figure grows when the loss of pension and social security benefits is included.

For the sake of our families’ economic security, it is time for lawmakers to take the next step and erase this ‘celebration’ from next year’s calendar.