AAUW Targets Members of Congress for Equal Pay Day ActionMarch 31, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nationwide Effort Urges Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act
WASHINGTON — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) will mark Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 8, with a nationwide effort asking members of Congress to stand up for equality by co-sponsoring and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R. 377) is a common-sense legislative fix to the 50-year-old Equal Pay Act. The bill, which has 207 co-sponsors in the House and 54 co-sponsors in the Senate, would help create stronger incentives for employers to pay workers fairly, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and prohibit retaliation against employees who share salary information.
Recently, the U.S. Senate has taken steps to advance gender equity with four new co-sponsors to the Paycheck Fairness Act, a committee hearing on the bill April 1, and an expected vote on the bill on or around Equal Pay Day. AAUW urges members of the House to similarly show their support for the Paycheck Fairness Act around Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date in April when women’s earnings catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year.
“Congress needs to stop treating equal pay as a partisan issue — it’s a family issue,” said Linda D. Hallman, CAE, CEO of AAUW. “Members of Congress serve women whose families struggle to make ends meet. Families are tired of pledges for equality without any action to give employers and employees the tools they need to close the pay gap.”
After controlling for factors known to affect earnings, such as education, parenthood, and hours worked, AAUW research found that women earn 7 percent less than men earn just one year out of college, even when they have the same major and occupation. That statistic is just the tip of the iceberg. AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap found that women typically are paid about 90 percent of what men are paid until they hit age 35. After that, median earnings for women fall to 75–80 percent of what men’s earnings. The gender pay gap affects all women, but it’s worse for mothers as well as for black and Hispanic women.
“We need the Paycheck Fairness Act to bring the Equal Pay Act into the 21st century,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW vice president of government relations. “By refusing to update the Equal Pay Act, Congress is essentially endorsing Mad Men-era policies. Those who don’t support the Paycheck Fairness Act need a reality check — and a new calendar.”
The Senate hearing on the Paycheck Fairness Act, held by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, will take place at 2:30 p.m. on April 1 in 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building. At the hearing, AAUW member Kerri Sleeman will testify about her personal story: She found out through bankruptcy court claims that she was making less than men she had supervised. Before the hearing, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will hold a press conference featuring Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sleeman, and several women senators. The press conference will take place at 10:15 a.m. on April 1 in S-207 in the U.S. Capitol.
AAUW’s Equal Pay Day efforts in the nation’s capital complement hundreds of on-the-ground activities across the United States. AAUW members and leaders are asking for Equal Pay Day proclamations, sharing The Simple Truth with policy makers, and holding rallies, forums, and other events to educate their communities. AAUW also works with the Wage Project to offer $tart $mart workshops at college campuses nationwide to provide women with the tools they need to negotiate for fair pay, which can help close part of the pay gap.
The drumbeat will continue after Equal Pay Day through the recently announced White House Summit on Working Families, which AAUW is helping plan, on June 23. AAUW members will also turn out in force at regional summits across the country.