The American Association of University Women (AAUW) joins Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today in honoring the four-year anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act with a push for its necessary companion legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act.
On January 29, 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama and reasserted employees’ rights to challenge discriminatory paychecks. AAUW played a leadership role in that legislative victory and chairs a coalition to advocate for the next step in our equal pay agenda: the Paycheck Fairness Act. This essential follow-up measure would provide a much-needed update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, closing loopholes and barring retaliation against workers who discuss wages with co-workers. The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R. 377) was reintroduced in both the Senate and the House in the 113th Congress; this same bill passed the House twice in prior years and came within two votes of overcoming a procedural hurdle in the Senate in 2010.
“We celebrate the historic Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Ledbetter herself by refusing to rest on our laurels,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. “Research has proven time and time again that the gender pay gap persists. President Obama made the call for equal pay for equal work during his campaign and most recently in his inaugural address. Now we urge Congress to act and, in their failure to do so, urge the president to address parts of the bill through executive order."
On average, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar men are paid. The AAUW report Graduating to a Pay Gap found that women one year out of college make 7 percent less than men despite graduating with the same major and working full time in the same occupation.
“The Paycheck Fairness Act would help erase this harmful wage gap by ensuring that employers provide equal pay for those doing the same work,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “Once young women throw their graduation caps in the air, they face increasingly large student loans and gender pay disparities that can make repayment a hardship. Instead they should enter the working world with the knowledge that pay discrimination will no longer be tolerated and that they will have a fair chance to provide for themselves and their families.”
AAUW’s pay equity agenda also includes passage of the Fair Pay Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). This bill tackles another piece of the equal pay puzzle by addressing the historic pattern of underpaying so-called “women’s work” that is equivalent in skills, effort, responsibility, and working conditions to male-dominated jobs. “It makes no sense, for example, for a janitor to be paid more than a housekeeper if their working conditions are similar,” said Hallman.
In addition to asking Congress to act on the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act, AAUW urges President Obama to issue an executive order forbidding federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask questions about compensation or share the amount of their own salaries.
“If this provision had been in place, Ledbetter may have discovered the discrimination against her decades earlier,” said Maatz. “Instead, Goodyear policy legally stopped its employees from sharing salary information under the threat of dismissal if they did so.”
This executive order would address, in part, one section of the Paycheck Fairness Act, protecting nearly a quarter of the federal civilian workforce despite congressional gridlock.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Our nonpartisan, nonprofit organization has more than 150,000 members and supporters across the United States, as well as 1,000 local branches and 700 college and university partners. Since AAUW’s founding in 1881, our members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political.
Learn more and join us at www.aauw.org .