Bad news, everybody. Yesterday, a measure to hold an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) fell just a few votes short in the Senate.
But there is a silver lining. Yesterday’s vote comes less than a week after the Senate, for the first time ever, voted—73 to 25—to debate the PFA. But by blocking an up-or-down vote on the measure, some members of the Senate sent the signal loud and clear that they are still not ready to get serious about equal pay.
It’s time to face facts: More than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women in full-time, year-round jobs still are paid 78 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. The wage gap is even worse for African American and Hispanic women, who are paid only 64 and 56 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to their white, male counterparts. In a still recovering economy where two out of three households have female primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners [PDF], families cannot afford unequal pay.
The PFA would strengthen the tools that workers have to fight back against pay discrimination. Specifically, the Act:
- Prevents employers from retaliating against workers who voluntarily discuss their wages with coworkers,
- Fully compensates victims of sex-based pay discrimination,
- Gives women and girls skills that empower them to negotiate their wages, and
- Expands collection of pay discrimination data to better inform research and enforcement.
Enough is enough. It’s time to stop playing political games with women and their families’ paychecks. The PFA is commonsense legislation that is long overdue.