This is a monumental week for Massachusetts women and families. Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Equal Pay Bill held a hearing before the state’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
If you were to break the law, you wouldn’t expect special treatment, right? If you were to violate someone else’s rights, you wouldn’t expect to get paid for it. And you certainly wouldn’t expect tax dollars to support your bad behavior.
Yet that is exactly what’s happening in the world of federal contracts. Some federal contractors are breaking the law, and they receive billions of dollars for more contracts straight from the public’s wallets.
On Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team beat Japan 5-2 in one of the most riveting, dramatic, and intense soccer matches I have ever seen. Carli Lloyd was unstoppable, scoring an unheard of three goals in just the first 16 minutes.
Iconic team leaders Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone both took the field in the second half of the match for what was likely their final World Cup appearance. Rampone has been a staple on the team since the last time they won the World Cup in 1999. Wambach has also made a lasting impact on the squad, both for skill and leadership. She will likely end her playing career with the record for most international goals scored of any U.S. soccer player, man or woman. But even these prolific athletes cannot escape the harsh reality of being a woman in America. Read more »
Today is Equal Pay Day for mothers who work outside of the home—while women typically earn 78 cents to every dollar earned by men for full-time, year-round work, these women earn just 70 cents to every dollar earned by fathers who work outside of the home. This means that for mothers who work outside of the home, today marks the day that their salaries finally catch up to equal pay for the previous year.
Today Congress has also reintroduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, or PWFA, to ensure that pregnant workers with medical needs receive reasonable accommodations at work that keep them on the job and earning a paycheck. While most women can work safely throughout their pregnancies without needing any job modifications, some women find that at some point during pregnancy particular job activities—such as lifting, bending, or standing for long periods—may begin to pose a challenge. Many of these women could continue to work without risk to themselves or their pregnancies with slight job modifications. Unfortunately, too many women are pushed out of their jobs—losing not only valuable paychecks but often benefits and insurance coverage—simply for being pregnant. The PWFA—introduced with bipartisan support—adopts language from the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that no pregnant worker will have to choose between the health and safety of her pregnancy and her paycheck. Read more »
Last week Oregon took an important step towards closing the wage gap for the women in its state. With the strong advocacy of Family Forward Oregon, the legislature passed HB 2007, a bill that prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their pay. Once the Governor signs the bill into law, Oregon will become the 11th state to explicitly provide these protections to workers.
What does this anti-retaliation law have to do with the wage gap? The story of Lilly Ledbetter illustrates the problem of pay secrecy. She worked for Goodyear Tire plant for nearly 20 years and only discovered that she was being paid significantly less than lower-ranked male colleagues thanks to an anonymous note from someone in HR. She could not have discovered the discrepancy on her own if she had thought to check—her employer banned employees for discussing pay. Read more »
Tomorrow, June 4th, is mothers’ equal pay day—the day that marks how long into the year mothers who work full time, year round have to wait before their typical annual earnings equal what fathers made in just one year. Read more »
Yesterday the Obama administration released a proposed rule to implement the Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which was signed by President Obama in 2014. The proposed rule is the first step toward making good on the executive order’s message to private contractors: if you have the honor of doing business with the federal government, you must follow the law.
This proposed rule outlines steps the Administration will take to ensure that federal contractors that violate our nation’s labor and employment laws start playing by the rules again. In an effort to protect the millions of workers employed by private companies who have been awarded government contracts, the executive order required federal contractors to report their labor and employment law violations. Read more »
You know what polls really well with just about everyone? Equal Pay. So it’s not a surprise that the Pope is the latest public figure to weigh in.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis voiced his support for equal pay in his weekly remarks at the Vatican. Pope Francis asked Catholics to consider “the Christian seed of radical equality between men and women.” He said Christians should “become more demanding” for that “radical equality” by “supporting the right of equal pay for equal work.” Read more »
A lot has changed since 1970. For example, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” was a billboard topper, and Jackson 5’s “ABC” was hitting fresh ears, not yet to be played and replayed at every bar- and bat-mitzvah party across the country. The “Ed Sullivan Show” was prime time television, and PBS first turned on its lights.
Of course, the workplace was a very different place in 1970 as well. Women in 1970 made up only about 38 percent of the workforce—representing about 30 million workers. Today, those numbers are dramatically higher; with nearly 73 million working women, women today make up nearly half—47 percent—of the workforce. And whereas less than 50 percent of first-time mothers worked while pregnant in 1970, nearly two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant today. Although women in 1970 were just beginning to get their foothold in 1970—and were earning just 59 cents to every dollar earned by a man—today, women’s income is critical to their families. Working women are primary breadwinners in more than 41 percent of families and they are co-breadwinners—bringing in between 25 to 50 percent of family earnings—in another 23 percent of these families. Read more »
Today I met Lily. No, not Lilly Ledbetter — four-month old Lily whose mom, Sara Wilkinson, President of Maryland NOW, spoke at an (un)Equal Pay Day event in Baltimore.
At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women's Policy Research projects that Lily and other baby girls born in Maryland this year will face a wage gap until they are 27. And, in case you wondered, Lily’s mom says that is absolutely not ok. Read more »