Equal Pay Day

Since 1996, April 8 has been commemorated by the National Committee on Pay Equity as “Equal Pay Day,” an event aimed at dramatizing the continuing gap between incomes earned by women and men.

Today, President Obama signed a new Executive Order to prevent workplace discrimination and empower workers to take control over negotiations regarding their pay. Taking Action in Honor of National Equal Pay Day:

EqualPayJust over two months after President Obama raised the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contractors, he is again leading by example and taking action to protect American workers from retaliation if they broach the topic of unequal compensation. This is a problem facing a broad range of American workers, but women in particular are too often on the receiving end of subtle or overt penalties for even mentioning their pay.

In addition, the President is asking the Secretary of Labor to require federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation by race and gender — which will help employers take proactive efforts to ensure fair pay for all their employees.

Women now make up roughly half of America’s workforce and graduate at a higher rate than men from college and graduate schools — but even professional women make less than men in the same occupation with equivalent degrees. And the wage gap gets worse as they get older: Until they turn 35, women earn roughly 90 percent of what men make; after that, women typically earn about 75 to 80 percent of what men make.

This June, the President will host the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families to discuss issues ranging from fair pay and the minimum wage to childcare and flexible workplace policies to ensure that parents can be productive workers while handling their responsibilities at home.

The summit will convene a diverse group of business leaders, advocates, parents, and stakeholders from across the country to share best practices, identify strategies that work, and take those ideas to scale.

The summit and Executive Order will build on President Obama’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the middle class, maximize opportunity for all, and put every hardworking American in a position to succeed.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Senate Democrats will mark Equal Pay Day with a debate on Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Paycheck Fairness Act, which would make it easier to sue employers for sex discrimination in pay, and also bar bosses from firing workers for talking about their pay rates.

As with every issue that touches upon economic inequality and fairness, the right-wing noise machine has been engaging in denial that a “pay gap” exists.  Think Progress today has an explainer, Here’s Why We Know The Gender Wage Gap Really Does Exist.

UPDATE: According to the Septegenarian Ninja Turtle, Mitch McConnell, the only reason Democrats scheduled a vote on Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Paycheck Fairness Act is “so they could blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left.” How’s that GOP rebranding working out for ya?

h/t Graphic: Women & Girls Foundation (2013)

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