Thursday, September 18, 2014

Paycheck Fairness Act Fails Yet Again.

Two days ago, the Paycheck Fairness Act failed to pass for the fourth time in the Senate. The last time (the 3rd time) it was brought to a vote was in April, earlier this year. The roll call vote, however, passed with a clear majority of 52-40.Unfortunately, it was 8 votes short of a majority of 60 percent, which is needed to pass in the Senate. The purpose of the bill is to narrow the earning gap between men and women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, so far in 2014, women working full time have made 78 cents to every dollar than a man makes. This is up very slightly from 2013’s figure of women making 77 cents to the dollar that men make. Another provision of the act is prohibiting employers from disciplining employees who wish to share their income information with other employees. The Act would also work to increase the legal options for workers who want to fighting income inequalities.

The common theme of the commentary given by the many Republican Senators who voted the measure down was that this was a political stunt by Democrats to appeal to women voters.  It’s true that Congress will be recessing soon, and yes, many members will soon return to their home states for the campaign season. Even Senator Deb Fischer, one of the few female Republican Senators refused to vote the bill through because of this issue. Senator John McCain, in particular, saw it was a distraction from the recent international issues in the Middle East with ISIS, and the Defense Authorization Bill.

Understanding some of the concerns of the Senators who voted against the bill, I still believe that this level of income disparity needs more attention from our Congress. While women average 78 cents to a man dollar, that figure gets worse when you factor in an African American woman’s average of 64 cents to the dollar, or a Latina’s average of 54 cents to the dollar. While this bill won’t entirely solve the work inequality between the genders and even inequality as a whole, it might prove to be a very helpful step in that fight.

Here are the full articles on the topic: