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“Direct-To-Camera Lies”: Scott Walker Runs Ad Supporting Equal Pay After Repealing Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) released an ad on Tuesday in which his female lieutenant governor applauds his support for equal pay for women — just two years after the governor signed a bill repealing the state’s equal pay law.

“Under Scott Walker, workplace discrimination will always be illegal for any reason,” Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch says in the ad. “Mary Burke wants to create more opportunities to sue. We want to create more opportunities for women to succeed.”

Walker’s campaign released the ad soon after recent polls showed him and Burke, his Democratic challenger, in a dead heat, with Burke leading heavily among women.

Burke has criticized Walker for quietly signing a measure in 2012 that repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act. The law gave victims of wage discrimination more avenues through which to plead their cases in court.

Walker never publicly commented on his decision to sign the equal pay repeal and his office never released a public statement about it. But Republican lawmakers who backed the repeal said the equal pay law was generating unnecessary hassles for businesses and false claims of pay discrimination.

“It’s an underreported problem, but a huge number of discrimination claims are baseless,” said state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) shortly after the law was repealed.

But the equal pay law appears to have been effective. Between 2009, when the law was signed, and 2010, Wisconsin women saw a 3 percent spike in median income measured as a percentage of male earnings. In the two years the law was in place, not one pay discrimination lawsuit was filed, and Wisconsin rose from 36th to 24th in the rankings of states with the best ratio of female to male pay.

By contrast, after Walker repealed the legislation in 2012, Wisconsin dropped to 25th in wage gap rankings, according to 2013 data.

One of the Democrats who co-authored the equal pay bill said it clearly had an effect on employers, even without leading to any more lawsuits. “Since the law was put into place, employers actually took notice and were very conscious of the fact that they had to follow this law or they were at risk of a lawsuit,” state Rep. Christine Sinicki said in 2012.

EMILY’s List, a progressive women’s PAC that supports Burke, said Walker’s new equal pay ad is a lie.

“When it comes to the issues that matter to women, Walker has nothing to offer but direct-to-camera lies,” said Marcy Stech, a spokesperson for the group. “Walker and Kleefisch know that their record is out of step with the women of Wisconsin whose votes they are desperate to capture — so blurring their record is their only option.”

“Voters are too smart to fall for these last-ditch efforts to mask Walker’s record of working against economic opportunity for women,” she added.

Burke’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

 

By: Laura Bassett, The Huffington Post BLog, October 28, 2014

 

 

October 29, 2014 Posted by | Pay Equity, Scott Walker, Wisconsin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Punish Them At The Polls!”: Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked Again By Senate GOP

Senate Republicans on Monday blocked for the fourth time a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws for women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would ban employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with each other, impose harsher penalties for pay discrimination and require employers to be able to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender.

The bill needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster and advance to a final vote on passage, but it fell short Monday by a vote of 52 to 40. Senate Democrats have brought the bill to the floor four times since 2011, and each time Republicans have rejected it.

“The wage gap not only hurts our families, it hurts the economy,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said before the vote. “If it were reversed, I’d be standing here fighting for the men. It’s not right.”

Republicans say they oppose the bill because they believe it would discourage employers from hiring women, out of a fear of lawsuits. The GOP has accused Democrats of staging a “show vote” on the bill in an election year, knowing it won’t pass.

“At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss, all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the last vote on the bill in April. “In other words, it’s just another Democratic idea that threatens to hurt the very people that it claims to help.”

Women working full-time in the U.S. earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the Census Bureau. A small portion of that gap, economists say, is due to employers paying women less than men for the same work.

Republicans are trying to engage women voters ahead of the November midterm elections, but their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act and other equal pay measures has repeatedly been used against them in campaigns.

 

By: Laura Bassett, The Huffington Post Blog, September 15, 2014

 

 

 

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Gender Gap, Paycheck Fairness Act, Senate | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Same As The Last Time”: What’s The GOP’s Excuse For Opposing Equal Pay This Time?

When Congress considered the Equal Pay Act in the spring of 1963, few objected to the values motivating the legislation. “The principle of equal pay for equal work is one which almost any citizen would strongly support,” wrote the National Retail Merchant Association in prepared testimony for the US Senate that April. Nevertheless, the NRMA opposed the bill “on the grounds that Federal legislation is not needed, that the added cost to administer such a law is unnecessary, and that an equitable law would be complex, confusing and difficult to enforce.”

Fifty-one years later, the conservative, anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum has this to say about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which expands on the 1963 legislation and will likely succumb this week to a Republican filibuster in the Senate: “Clearly, sex-based wage discrimination is wrong. Furthermore, it’s already illegal…This latest legislation—the Paycheck Fairness Act—won’t lead to more fairness or better pay. It will lead to more lawsuits, more red tape and fewer job opportunities for women and men.”

Not as much has changed since 1963 as one might have hoped, either in the workplace or in politics. Back then opponents of the Equal Pay Act said states were adequately addressing the issue of of equal pay. Others made excuses for the fact that women made 59 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earned, arguing, as Council of Economic Advisors chair Walter Heller did, that the “added costs” of hiring women were to blame. Skepticism about labor protection for women wasn’t strictly partisan; the Democratic chairman of the House subcommittee on labor reportedly kept documents related to the Equal Pay Act filed under B, for “Broads.”

No one says now that the 1963 law was unnecessary or insignificant, though as its supporters acknowledged at the time of its passage, it was only a first step. Today, women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar—or just 64 cents and 55 cents for Black and Hispanic women, respectively— and Republicans are dusting off arguments from last century to block updated legislation, claiming that while they still support its underlying principles, today’s pay really is equal, or else the work is not. (Whether filing methods have changed in the new millennium is unclear.)

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, for example, called the concern about equal pay a “meme,” and Texas governor Rick Perry dismissed it as “nonsense.” Conservatives who do acknowledge the existence of a gender gap often attribute it to the concentration of women in lower-wage jobs. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and traditionally female industries—like education, nursing and domestic work—usually pay less than industries dominated by men, like engineering and IT. The fact that women are funneled into lower-paying fields is certainly a problem. But it’s also true that in almost every single occupation for which data is available, women earn less than male co-workers. That’s true within low-wage industries and in those traditionally dominated by women. For example, women make up nearly 90 percent of the nursing workforce, and they collect $1,086 in median weekly earnings. Male nurses take home an extra $150 each week, according to Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Although the Paycheck Fairness Act is unlikely to pass the Senate, President Obama will sign two executive orders today regarding fair pay for women. One prevents federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages; the other requires contractors to share information about compensation, broken down by race and gender, with the government. The orders won’t accomplish as much as the PFA, which extends those two provisions to private employers, as well as putting the burden on employers to prove that unequal pay is job-related and allowing workers to sue for damages based on gender discrimination, as they can for racial, disability and age discrimination. Still, joint White House and Senate campaigns on equal pay could have symbolic power as Democrats leverage the GOP’s resistance to bread and butter economic measures to spur turnout in the midterms, particularly among women.

Smartly, the GOP has given opposition to the PFA a new face—a female one, telling women to use their own bootstraps to scale the pay gap. “I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators,” said Texas GOP Beth Cubriel, explaining her party’s opposition to fair pay legislation. Targeting legislation at working women is “making us look like whiners,” Minnesota state Represenative Andrea Kieffer said in March. “All Republicans support equal pay for equal work,” wrote Republican National Committee press secretary Kirsten Kukowski, communications director Andrea Bozek and NRSC press secretary Brook Hougesen in a memo. “And while we all know workplace discrimination still exists, we need real solutions that focus on job creation and opportunity for women.”

Conservatives have been pushing back against claims that the GOP is anti-women with the argument that it’s Democrats who demean women by focusing on structural disadvantages. The Independent Women’s Forum, for example, says the PFA “perpetuates the myth that all women are workplace victims.” The idea that government action turns women into victims, or makes them dependent, flows through conservative messaging around the Affordable Care Act, the social safety net, really any program that would help the people whose bootstraps have been stolen. “The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender,” Mike Huckabee said at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in January.

The basic point here is that government can’t do anything good for women, or for people in general. Only individuals themselves, and an unfettered private sector, can. “Not every problem in America can be fixed by Washington,” Katie Packer Gage, Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in opposition to the PFA. This anti-government agenda has nothing to do with women’s equality. It is, however, one of the oldest lines in the book.

 

By: Zoe Carpenter, The Nation, April 8, 2014

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Gender Gap | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Worried About The Men”: Paycheck Fairness Act Generates Unexpected GOP Fears

Senate Democrats are moving forward with their election-year “Fair Shot” agenda, including popular bills intended to make life a little more difficult for the Senate Republican minority. First up is the Paycheck Fairness Act, which GOP policymakers have already killed twice – once in 2010 and again in 2012.

For those who may need a refresher, the bill would “enhance the remedies available for victims of gender-based discrimination and require employers to show that wage differences are job-related, not sex-based, and driven by business necessity. The measure would also protect employees from retaliation for sharing salary information, which is important for deterring and challenging discriminatory compensation.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was an important step forward when it comes to combating discrimination, but it was also narrowly focused to address a specific problem: giving victims of discrimination access to the courts for legal redress. The Paycheck Fairness Act is a broader measure and Dems consider it an important part of their agenda.

It’s not surprising that Republican opposition will likely kill the bill for a third time, but I am struck by the arguments some in the GOP have come up with.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander is worried that the Paycheck Fairness Act – a bill designed to ensure equal pay – will hurt men.

“Take me through exactly what would have to happen, with a specific example of a man and woman, where a man is being paid less than the woman,” Alexander asked during a Senate hearing. “Because this law is not just about women – it’s about men and women.”

Under the status quo, women receive unequal pay for equal work – for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 77 cents. Alexander isn’t just opposed to a legislation intended to address wage discrimination, he also wants to know what men will get out of it?

The answer isn’t complicated: men will get a more just society for all. Isn’t that enough?

Perhaps the more salient point to consider is why pay equity has become such a problematic issue for much of the Republican Party.

Two weeks ago, Cari Christman, the executive director of a political action committee for Texas Republican women, got the ball rolling when she struggled to explain her party’s opposition to pay-equity laws. She said women don’t need measures like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, in part because “women are extremely busy.”

Soon after, Beth Cubriel, the executive director of the Texas Republican Party, said women are to blame for receiving unequal pay for equal work. She argued that if women “become better negotiators,” the problem will take care of itself.

Last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) appeared on msnbc and seemed annoyed by the entire subject, calling the debate “nonsense,” and urging Democrats to focus on “substantive issues” – as if this issue isn’t substantive at all.

And now Lamar Alexander is worried about men facing gender-based wage discrimination.

Don’t be too surprised if pay equity becomes a key element of Democrats’ 2014 strategy. Not only are they on the right side of public opinion, but it seems the GOP is struggling badly to address the issue coherently.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 2, 2014

April 3, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Paycheck Fairness Act | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s The Kids’ Fault”: Why Women Still Earn Less Than Men

As thousands of high school graduates head off to college in the next few weeks, they’ll see a lot more women than men on campus — specifically, they’ll see three female students for every two male students they spot. These scenes are dramatically different from the ones their grandparents would have seen in the 1960′s when the percentages were reversed.

The surge in women’s college enrollment appears in their graduation figures.While only about 30 percent of women (and men) older than 25 have a college degree, in recent years, women have earned about 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees. Mark J. Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that there are now about 4.35 million more women with college degrees in the United States than men.

That’s some progress.

Yet, progress in college degrees received (women also earn a larger share of master’s and doctor’s degrees than men do) has not turned into progress in paychecks received.

In 2011, women working full-time earned about 77 cents for each dollar that a man earned, according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.The gap has narrowed over time, which is good news. But, as President Obama said on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Equal Pay Act making it illegal to discriminate in pay on the basis of sex, “does anybody here think that’s good enough?”

I sure don’t.

So, after all these years, why does the pay gap still exist? Is it because women choose to become social workers rather than rocket scientists, as some have noted? Or is it because they have decided to stay home with the kids and stop working or to work part time, as others have noted?

On the first point, rocket scientists certainly do make more than teachers. The median wage for an aerospace engineer in 2012 was $103,720, almost double the $53,400 a typical elementary school teacher could expect to make that year. It’s also true that only about 14 percent of architects and engineers are women, while more than 80 percent of elementary and middle school teachers are women. Over all occupations, women’s wages would be lower than men’s wages due to differences in occupational choices.

On the second point, fathers are more likely to work full-time than mothers. Nearly 40 percent of mothers worked part-time or not at all compared with 3 percent of fathers, according to a study by the American Association of University Women. Women who leave the labor force don’t gain much work experience so that when they return to work, they’re likely to make less than another person, male or female, with the same qualifications who has an unbroken career record.

Again, the data support this assertion. Judith Warner recently wrote for the New York Times Magazine about the cost to mothers when they leave their careers to spend more time with their families. Warner found that the women she interviewed who had returned to the work force a decade after leaving their jobs to take care of their kids were generally in lower paying, less prestigious jobs than the ones they left.

A separate study found that women who returned to work after an extended time off were paid 16 percent less than before they left the work force, while another study Warner cites found that only one-quarter of women who returned to the work force took a traditional hard-driving job, such as banking, compared with the two-thirds of women who were employed in such jobs before taking time off.

One final factor helps explain the pay gap: kids. In a paper published in the late 1990s, Columbia University professor of social work and public affairs Jane Waldfogel showed that having children has a negative impact on a woman’s wages, while it has no or even a positive effect on a man’s wages. The fact that the pay gap between women without children and women with children is larger than the pay gap between men and women further highlights the negative impact of kids on earnings. Waldfogel noted that it’s as true in 1998 as Victor Fuchs reported a decade earlier, that “the greatest barrier to economic equality is children.”

The research shows that having kids is bad for your paycheck. What the research doesn’t seem to show, however, is that many moms may actually not care.

 

By: Joanne Weiner, She The People, The Washington Post, August, 13, 2013

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Women | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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