It turns out that it is not just Tax day, but Equal Pay Day, as well, when we are reminded that 40 years after the Women’s Revolution, and 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women are still earning just 77 cents to a man’s dollar for the same work.
As his first act upon taking office, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, fixing a loophole that had denied to her the ability to sue for restitution after decades of pay discrimination which followed her into retirement, in reduced pension and Social Security payments.
Just last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the much maligned Republican governor who is facing recall over his heavy handed tactics in overturning collective bargaining rights of unionized workers, particularly women-dominated professions like teaching, literally in the dark of night repealed the state’s Equal Pay for Women Act, making it hard for women to claim their rights when they suffer wage discrimination.
And former Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra, who is now running to unseat Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), weighed in on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Thursday at a campaign event in Royal Oak, Michigan, saying “that thing is a nuisance. It shouldn’t be the law, Huffington Post reported.
It is a stark reminder that the work to win Women’s equality is hardly done, and the hard-fought gains are actually under assault.
From the very beginning of his administration, President Obama has worked to ensure that women are paid fairly for their work. The President is committed to securing equal pay for equal work because it’s a matter of fair play, and because American families and the health of our nation’s economy depends on it.
Today, in conjunction with Equal Pay Day:
The White House released the Equal Pay Task Force Accomplishments Report: Fighting for Fair Pay in the Workplace. The Equal Pay Task Forcebrings together the best expertise of professionals at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor and the Office of Personnel Management, who work daily to combat pay discrimination in the workplace. The report details the significant progress that the Task Force has made to fight pay discrimination – including improving inter-agency coordination and collaboration to ensure that the full weight of the federal government is focused on closing the gender pay gap once and for all.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced the winners of the “Equal Pay App Challenge.” In January of this year, the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Equal Pay Task Force, launched this challenge, inviting software developers to use publicly available data and resources to create applications that accomplish at least one of the following goals: provide greater access to pay data organized by gender, race, and ethnicity; provide interactive tools for early career coaching or online mentoring or to help inform negotiations. A solution to the pay gap has been elusive, in part because access to basic information – e.g., typical salary ranges and skill level requirements for particular positions, advice on how to negotiate appropriate pay – is limited.
Because of the enthusiastic response to the “Equal Pay App Challenge” and the creative apps that were developed, anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can access answers to these basic, but important, questions.
“This challenge represents just one more way that women can empower themselves with the tools they need to make sure they get equal pay for equal work,” the department stated.
Representatives from the Equal Pay Task Force will be participating in a Twitter chat on Friday, April 20th, at 12pm EDT to discuss the App Challenge and the winning apps. Follow the hashtag #EqualPayChat for this discussion.
Finally, in its ongoing effort to educate employees and employers about their rights and responsibilities under our nation’s equal pay laws, the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau today published two brochures that will help educate employees regarding their rights under the existing equal pay laws and enable employers to understand their obligations.
“From signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to creating the National Equal Pay Task Force, to proposing minimum wage and overtime protections for home-care workers – 90% of whom are women – President Obama has made clear his belief that there should be no second class citizens in our workplaces and that making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone,” the White House stated.