In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
Most Republican lawmakers say they believe in fair and equal pay for women. But a day after Equal Pay Day, when Republican senators had a chance to vote for a bill that would have gone a long way to achieving that goal, not a single one cast a vote to just allow debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, let alone pass it.
Women have to work more than three extra months to earn what men earn in a year because, on average, they make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men’s earnings. Today, Equal Pay Day, marks the day women workers close the 2013 pay gap.
In a move to boost wage equality and help close the wage gap between men and women (about 23 cents on the dollar), President Barack Obama will issue an executive order tomorrow that will apply some provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act to federal contractors. The order, according to news reports, will be signed at a White House ceremony marking Equal Pay Day, which signifies how far a woman must work into 2014 to earn the same as a man did in 2013 alone.
The Equal Pay Act was landmark legislation. As Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi remarked in a press conference last Thursday:
He [President John F. Kennedy ] knew it was a first step to end the 'unconscionable practice'—in his words—of paying women less than men for the same amount of work. But in the course of 50 years, loopholes in the Equal Pay Act were carved out and exploited. Disparities affecting minority women widened. And the “unconscionable practice” persists.