April 12 is Equal Pay Day. The observance identifies the day at which a woman's pay “catches up” to a man’s pay from the previous year. To mark the occasion, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) called for action at a gathering of women’s organizations.
DeLauro called Equal Pay Day a “dubious milestone” highlighting systemic discrimination regarding compensation. “I’m tired of Equal Pay Day, and I don’t want to do this anymore,” she told her audience.
DeLauro, a sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act as well as the Lilly Ledbetter Act, said that the “work of women has been consistently undervalued.” She said the Paycheck Fairness Act is designed to “put some teeth into the Equal Pay Act,” introduced by President John Kennedy, which she said is not working as intended because of loopholes.
She quoted President Dwight Eisenhower, who called equal pay for women “a matter of simple justice.” She explained that “disparities exist at all levels of employment … in all careers,” and that the Paycheck Fairness Act would address the broad spectrum of pay issues. She emphasized that the Act’s supporters do keep in mind the situation of small businesses in this economy.
While the Paycheck Fairness Act has passed the U.S. House, it has failed to pass the Senate. “I am hopeful this is not a partisan issue and that we can move forward,” DeLauro stated, adding that “a systemic problem requires a systemic cure.” She said that this issue is not just about pay, but affects benefit and retirement packages as well. It also affects families since a majority of women are sole or co-breadwinners.
DeLauro is hopeful that passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, as well as increased enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other regulations, will eliminate the need for future Equal Pay Days.
The event, held at the Women & Family Life Center in Guilford, Connecticut, was also attended by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, who said pay equity “isn’t a women’s issue—it’s a pocketbook issue—and it’s now everyone’s issue.”
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