AAUW Pushes Senate to Update Landmark Equal Pay Act

June 09, 2010


Lisa Goodnight, goodnightl@aauw.org


New Polling Data Shows That 84 Percent of Voters Support Fair Pay in the Workplace

WASHINGTON – Polling data released today by the Paycheck Fairness Act Coalition, of which AAUW is a key leader, shows strong support for a “new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182) would update and strengthen the 47-year-old Equal Pay Act, the landmark civil rights law signed by President Kennedy on June 10, 1963. On this anniversary, AAUW urges lawmakers to consider the latest polling data, which makes a compelling argument for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and finally closing the wage gap between men and women.

According to the coalition poll, 84 percent of voters supported “a new law that would provide women more tools to get fair pay in the workplace.” In this nationwide poll of registered voters, participants were told that the “law will also make it harder for employers to justify paying different wages for the same work” and that it would ensure that businesses compensate women fairly. Seventy-two percent of respondents strongly supported such a law.

“The recovery of the American middle class begins and ends with well-paying jobs, but that cannot happen if women continue to earn less than they deserve for equal work,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “That’s why the Paycheck Fairness Act is needed now more than ever. There is no higher priority for the American public than restoring the economy, and equal pay is a critical step in that direction.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by taking meaningful steps to empower women to negotiate for equal pay, to create strong incentives for employers to follow the law, and to strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. In 1963, women made just 59 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts. Nearly 50 years later, that figure has climbed at a painfully slow pace to just 77 cents on the dollar.

The lagging economy has made voters even more sensitive to the issue of equal pay. As the effects of the recession continue, women are increasingly becoming the sole breadwinners for their families — making pay equity not just a matter of fairness but the key to a family’s ability to make ends meet.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act closes serious loopholes that have developed in the Equal Pay Act over the years,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. “The House passed this bill more than a year ago, and there are 40 co-sponsors in the Senate. Poll after poll indicates that voters’ perceptions about the economy will be a critical factor in the 2010 elections, and I’m certain AAUW members will remember in November.”

AAUW has been leading a nationwide campaign to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and urges the Senate to take action on the bill before the August recess.

“Empowering women is one investment that always pays long-term dividends, not only for the women themselves, but also for their families and the nation as well,” said Hallman. “It’s time the Equal Pay Act lives up to its promise to provide equal pay for equal work.”


By:   |   June 09, 2010