Pennsylvania’s equal pay law has too many gaps and is too weak to be effective.
While gender wage gaps persist across the country, Pennsylvania women are worse off than the national average. Without simple corrective policies that close gaps in current equal pay law, American women, on average, will not achieve equal pay until 2058.
Pennsylvania women, however, are not on track to earn equal pay until the year 2072.
April 12 symbolizes how far into this year women must work on average to earn what white non-Hispanic men earned in the previous year. To mark this unfortunate occasion, advocates from across the state of Pennsylvania are heading to the Capitol in Harrisburg to call for equal pay for equal work.
“The pay gap is not a myth, it’s math,” says Dot McLane, President of the American Association of University Women of Pennsylvania. “As AAUW’s research has shown, women of every race and ethnicity experience a gender pay gap, beginning even one year after college graduation.”
Pennsylvania recently held the first public hearings on the subject of equal pay in more than 50 years after several bills to close the gaps in current law were introduced. Unfortunately, despite abundant evidence of the gender wage gap discussed during those hearings, the bills (HB 1160 – Sims/Davis and SB 303 – Teplitz/Williams) have been left to die of neglect in Committee. The current law has not been updated since 1967, when it was amended to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians to whom it applied.
“It’s time for a stronger equal pay law,” said Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia). “Pennsylvania women are paid on average 54 to 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, depending on which county they live in. Equal work deserves equal pay. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Sen. Rob Teplitz, (D-Dauphin/Perry), said, “Wage inequality and pay secrecy are not only a detriment to working women, but to families. Women make up half of our workforce, and many Pennsylvania households are headed by women, so improvements to the pay equity law not only impact women, but their families as well.”
We have the information we need to correct this problem, but where is the political will?
Pennsylvania’s current equal pay law is too weak to be effective. Yet, the Pennsylvania Legislature has so far refused to bring any corrective bills out of committee for a floor vote–while also refusing to move bills that would raise the minimum wage, a bill that would prevent pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, and another that would help ensure nursing workers have a private, sanitary space to express breast milk.
“House Bill 1160, the equal-pay legislation, should be at the forefront of everyone’s legislative efforts,” said Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bucks). “It is unacceptable that the effort to provide economic opportunity and equality is allowed to wallow in committee for almost 11 months. Let’s get House Bill 1160 out of committee and to votes before the House and Senate.”
By refusing to support working women, the Pennsylvania Legislature is refusing to enable women to support their families.
These bills are also supported by the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a growing coalition of more than 50 local, state and national organizations calling for real solutions to real problems faced by Pennsylvania women.
For more information, go to aauw-pa.aauw.net and www.pa4womenshealth.org. Contact Toni Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tara Murtha at email@example.com.