This morning the Senate took to the floor to debate the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a bill that would give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination, bar retaliation against workers for discussing salary information, and ensure full compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination. This afternoon the PFA failed to garner the 60 votes needed to end debate in a 52-47 vote that stuck to party lines.
While I was watching the debate, numerous Senators spoke in support of the PFA. They spoke to the many issues that matter in this fight – the (obvious) reasons women should be paid fairly, how we can boost women’s economic security by passing the PFA, how fair pay for women is good for families, and more. Senator Durbin made a point that particularly resonated with me. He simply said: protection for women and their families used to be bipartisan.
This clearly should be a bipartisan issue. The fact of the matter is that the typical woman working full time, year round is still paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart, a figure that has barely budged over the last decade. Part of this 23 cent difference can be explained by occupations, work hours, and experience. But the truth of the matter is – much of the wage gap is entirely unaccounted for by these factors, and court cases show that discrimination continues to play a significant role in the wage gap.
In 2010, NWLC and its coalition partners conducted polling to measure the support of the PFA. What you saw today in the Senate might make you think that voters are divided on this issue. In fact – that’s the opposite of what our polling found. The poll found that voters across political parties supported the PFA – 91 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans, and 87 percent of Independents polled voiced support for the law. The polling found support among both men and women, across racial and ethnic groups, and across the different geographic regions of the country.
For me, the truth of it all is this: I don’t want to be paid unfairly, purely based on the fact that I am a woman. This matters to me for economic reasons: being paid fairly means I can pay off my student loans faster and reassures me that I can provide for my family. But it also matters to me because I believe in the basic American value of fair treatment: employers simply have no business factoring my gender into my salary.
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