Republicans Poised To Send Message To Women That Their Work Is Less Valuable Because They Were Born Female
June 4, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
When Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, women working full time, year round took home 59 cents for every dollar paid to their male coworkers.
And while passage of that landmark legislation helped narrow the pay gap, today American women still take home only 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues.
It’s simply not fair that any woman working the same hours in the same job should make less money.
Often this inequity stretches over decades. And many women don’t even know they are victims.
It took one Las Vegas woman 15 years to find out she made $20,000 per year less than her male colleagues, although she worked just as hard.
She was paid about 66 cents on the dollar compared to her male coworkers, despite being a top sales associate with a Las Vegas payroll company.
And over the decade and a half she worked there, her employers cheated her out of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay – simply because she was a woman.
Her story has a happy ending. She got a lawyer. She settled out of court. And she went on to found her own successful business.
But many victims of years or even decades of gender-based pay discrimination aren’t so fortunate.
The average woman who works full time, year-round in Nevada makes $7,300 less than a man doing the same job.
Although the wage gap has narrowed in the half century since Congress declared women entitled to equal pay for equal work, gender discrimination remains a serious problem in the workplace.
That’s why Democrats overcame Republican obstructionism last Congress to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This law makes it possible for victims of gender discrimination to successfully challenge unequal pay – even if the discrimination has been going on for years.
But despite that achievement, there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure American women earn comparable pay for a day’s work.
So it’s crucial we pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense bill that would:
• Give workers stronger tools to combat wage discrimination
• Bar retaliation against workers for discussing salary information
• And help ensure more adequate compensation for victims of gender-based pay discrimination.
Today women make up nearly half of the workforce, and an increasing number of women are the primary wage earners for their families.
So this problem affects women, children and families across the country.
With the economy struggling and families stretching every dollar, closing the pay gap is more important than ever.
No woman working to support herself or her family should be paid less than her male counterparts.
Yet Republicans are filibustering the Paycheck Fairness Act – legislation that would help even the playing field for women in the workforce.
If it seems unbelievable that Republicans would block such a common-sense measure, consider their track record this Congress.
Republicans blocked legislation to hire more teachers, cops, firefighters and first responders.
They stalled important jobs measures like the aviation jobs bill and the transportation jobs bill for months to pursue ideological battles.
They opposed legislation to restore basic fairness to our tax code.
They’ve twice derailed attempts to stop interest rates on student loan from doubling, putting an affordable education at risk for 7 million students.
They’ve put women’s lives at risk by holding the Violence Against Women Act in limbo over a hyper-technical issue.
And they’ve launched a series of attacks on women’s access to health care and contraception.
They’ve amassed an impressive record of obstruction – and of being on the wrong side of almost every issue.
Unfortunately, it seems Paycheck Fairness may have two strikes against it – it would good for women and good for the economy, so Republicans are determined to oppose it.
It appears Republicans will wind up on the wrong side of this issue as well – sending the message to little girls across the country that their work is less valuable because they happened to be born female.