Category Archives: equal pay

Fourth Down: Senate GOP continues filibuster of Paycheck Fairness Act

September 15, 2014 … the fourth time the Republicans in the United States Senate have voted to continue their filibuster of S. 2199, the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The vote was 52 yes, 40 no, and 8 not voting.

Every one of the 40 “no” votes on the cloture motion were Republicans, including Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).  [rc 262]

“The legislation punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination.” [TheHill]

There’s a little trick in here.  On September 10, 2014 the Republicans voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor, agreeing to a cloture motion [260] in a 73-25 vote during which Senator Heller voted “yes.”  However, that was insufficient to prevent the Republicans from voting down a September 15th cloture motion on the same measure.  Watch out for mailings suggesting Republican Incumbent X voted “in favor” of the Equal Pay Act, especially if vote number 260 is referenced.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) complained the Democrats were taking up time with “political show votes.”  Additionally, the GOP objects to the bill as a “giveaway to trial lawyers,” a constant complaint whenever worker’s rights are under consideration, and would remove caps on punitive damages for businesses found in violation of the law.  [TheHill]  

Ladies are free to cite the EEOC regarding the number of filings alleging pay discrimination.  Such filings constituted 1.0% of all EEOC charges in FY 2010, 0.9% in FY 2011, 1.1% in FY 2012, and 1.1% in FY 2013.  This is hardly a situation in which anyone could reasonably contend there is a Giveaway to Trial lawyers involved.

Nor is this some form of Show Vote, unless, of course, we want to show precisely how adamant the GOP is in its opposition to requiring equal pay for equal work.

S. 2199 may also be considered a bill to protect middle class working families in which both spouses are employed.  For example, the median annual wage in Nevada for an accountant working in the financial services sector is $61,710.  Assume for the sake of this example that both spouses are accountants, doing the same work, during the same year.  If they both earn $61,710 then the family has annual resources of $123,420.  If she is only earning 75% of his salary, then she’s making $46,282, and that would add up to a total family income of $107,992.  In other words the family is missing out on  $15,428 annually.  That’s $15,428 not being spent on household goods, clothing, groceries, transportation, or being saved for health related issues, education, or retirement.  Not to put too fine a point to it, but the Republicans seem satisfied with a system in which family incomes are reduced by the differential between pay for men and women, without regard to the economic impact this has on aggregate demand for goods and services.

For a party claiming to be “pro-business” this is certainly not evidence of even a modicum of basic economic comprehension.  Senator Heller may offer excuses – like the phantom litigation specter – but his vote on September 15, 2014 is actually one which removes spending capacity from consumers, and that’s not “pro-business” in a consumer driven national economy.

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Filed under equal pay, family issues, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Keeping the Ladies in Waiting: The Paycheck Fairness Act

Woman's List 2On January 23, 2013 — yes, that’s 2013 — Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3) introduced H.R. 377, the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections has jurisdiction over bills of this nature, and by April 2013 the bill hadn’t moved.  Supporters of the bill filed a discharge petition. As of Tuesday, April 1, 2014 the petition to get a vote on the bill got its 197th signature. (113-1) It is 21 signatures shy of the 218 required.

Discharge petitions are a strategy of questionable value, since depending upon how such maneuvers are analyzed the success rate ranges from about 2% to 9% of all such attempts. [WaPo]

Nor has the idea met with enough support in the U.S. Senate.  As the last signature was being appended to the House Discharge Petition 113-1 in April 2014, Republicans in the Senate were blocking consideration of a companion bill.  [Nation] S. 2199, Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked when Senate Republicans refused to lift their filibuster on a 53-44 vote. [rc 103] Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) was among those voting to sustain the filibuster.

Republican opposition to the Paycheck Fairness legislation appears to be a masterpiece of ideological spin.  We, announce the members of the GOP, are really supportive of women’s issues — but government isn’t the answer.

There was this example: “The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender,” Mike Huckabee said at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in January.” [Nation] Huckabee offers a talking point in which any attempt to assist women (or any other group for that matter) merely serves to create a sense of ‘victimhood’ thus disparaging attempts by individuals to grab their own bootstraps at improve their own economic circumstances. It’s little more than the hoary Moral Hazard Issue, modified and transformed into an excuse to do nothing to help anyone, ever.

And this one:  “All Republicans support equal pay for equal work,” wrote Republican National Committee press secretary Kirsten Kukowski, communications director Andrea Bozek and NRSC press secretary Brook Hougesen in a memo. “And while we all know workplace discrimination still exists, we need real solutions that focus on job creation and opportunity for women.” [Nation]  This might be characterized as the Double Side Step Dance.  Oh, we’re all in favor of equal pay for equal work, but — we need more tax breaks for multi-national corporations, etc. offering more support for those elusive Job Creators.

And these: “Republicans have said that, although they support equal pay for equal work, the bill would increase civil lawsuits. They also say that the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.” [WaPo] Ah, the recurring Republican nightmare, on display with nearly every bill which ever sought to regulate corporate behavior — It will spawn litigation.

The Lily Ledbetter Act was supposed to have done that [TNR]… except it didn’t.  Redundancy is another GOP argument for doing nothing.  The line can be summarized as, “There is no need to improve any employee protections because current statutes already provide enough protection.” This is an argument which neatly avoids the rationale set forth in the legislation which explains the necessity of the proposed improvements.  Witness, the prohibition of penalties for employees who discuss their wages, and the authority of the EEOC to collect data from employers about wages.

And finally: It’s just election year politicking. [NYT] Translation: You’re just trying to make us look bad. If so, it was successful.

So, what might disgorge the Paycheck Fairness Act (equal pay for equal work) from the Congressional bill grinder?

Get Specific:  At town hall sessions, and public Q&A events — Instead of asking “Do you, Congressman Bilgewater or Senator Sludgepump, support equal pay for equal work?” Ask them: What is wrong with prohibiting employers from penalizing employees who discuss their wages or salaries?  What is wrong with allowing the EEOC to collect data on wages and salaries from employers?

If they stammer out that those sound like good ideas, then ask “Why didn’t you support the Paycheck Fairness Act which included those two items?”  Or, if the individual is not an incumbent, ask “Will you support legislation which includes those provisions?”

Get rational: At bottom the Paycheck Fairness Act is of a piece with family finances. [Additional here]  From a previous post:

“The pay gap has some very real economic consequences.   One analysis projects that if the pay gap could be mitigated, and more women could participate in the workforce, we could add about 3 to 4% to our national economy.”

Again, specifics matter.  In Nevada, a woman earns approximately 88 cents for every dollar earned by a man.  Additionally:

“125,402 households in Nevada are headed by women. About 26 percent of those households, or 32,479 households, have incomes that fall below the poverty level. Eliminating the wage gap would provide much needed income to women whose salaries are of critical importance to them and their families.” [NatPart pdf]

Allowing a politician to pontificate about the highly generalized moral hazard of hypothetical victimhood, or rattle on about redundancy and projected litigation only serves to skirt real economic issues faced by real families.  Ask, “What would be the overall economic benefit to Nevada if the $6,319 yearly wage gap between the earnings of men and women were narrowed?”

Playing with the calculator — if only 1,000 of those households in Nevada, headed by women, were to get the same wages as their male counterparts for doing the same job, and that $6,139 gap were closed, the result would be $6,139,000 added to the aggregate demand for goods and services in this state.

Get Out and Vote.

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Filed under Economy, equal pay, Heller, Ledbetter Decision, Nevada economy, Politics, Republicans, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

What War On Women? Repealing Equal Pay Laws

Just in case you happen to be female, or happen to be married to one, or the son or daughter of one, or the father or uncle of one — you might find this Republican assault on women of interest.  It’s not all about sex either.  It’s also about income.  Buried beneath the hoopla of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signing the anti-abortion legislation this past week (Let’s Make Government Small Enough To Insert Into Every Woman’s Vagina?) was news about Walker signing into effect the repeal of the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. [AYV]

Corporate proponents of repeal had argued the law would encourage “frivolous lawsuits” from a “protected class” of people (that would be women) — however, in the two years the law was in effect there were NO lawsuits filed.  Zero. Zilch.  None.  So, why was repeal so important? What could justify it?  Well, maybe money is “more important to men?”  Huh? Someone is still thinking it’s 1960.  For reference, my calendar says it’s 2012.

In 1960 only 20% of mothers were in the work force.  As of 2010 70% of all children in the U.S. lived in households in which all the adults worked. [AmPro]   Two incomes are now the norm, and are two income families struggling to maintain middle class earnings doing better than the previous generation in the ’60s? No.

“…while those families certainly make more money than a one-income family did a generation ago, by the time they pay for the basics — an average home, a health insurance policy, a second car to get Mom to work, child care, and taxes — that family actually has less money left over at the end of the month to show for it. We tend to assume with two incomes you’re doubly secure. But if you count on every penny of both of those incomes, which most families today do, then you’re in big trouble if either income goes away. And obviously, if you have two people in the workforce, you have double the chance that someone will get laid off, or double the chance that someone could get too sick to work. When that happens, two-income families really get into trouble, and that’s how a lot of families quickly go bankrupt.”  [MJ]

So, we have working families working harder simply to stay afloat financially.  Money, then, is equally important no matter the source, be it the father’s or mother’s contribution.  As of 2010 the median household income in the U.S. was $50,046 annually.  [Census] We can safely assume that at least 70% of those families depended on at least two sources of income to sustain their status as a “median family.”

The notion that having the “little woman” enter the workforce in order to obtain income for “extras,” is as dated as capri pants and pill box hats.

Equally outdated is the idea that women lose money by leaving the workforce to concentrate on child raising:

“A 2007  study by the American Association of University Women found that college-educated women earn only 80 percent as much as similarly educated men a year after graduation. Part of that is attributable to differences in life choices and family circumstances, but not all. “After accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a 5 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained,” it said. After 10 years in the workforce, there’s an unexplained 12 percent gap.”  [TDB]

Again, the “time off” argument might have had some validity in the age of Pill Box Hats, but it’s not a valid contention today — the calendar on the bulletin board still says 2012.  We could venture to explain that gap — women aren’t paid as much as men for the same work.

While corporations may very much want to repeal anything that might potentially affect their profitability (women’s pay, minimum wages, etc.) the hard reality of the 21st century is that two income families are the norm, and most families are one sick child or one pink slip away from serious financial difficulties.

Repealing an equal pay protection act isn’t just another assault on women, it’s an attack on entire families.  Someone might also want to remind these Republican legislators and governors that Hazel and the Donna Reed Show aren’t on the television schedule anymore.

Extra Credit Reading Assignments: “The Three Faces of Work Family Conflict,” Center for American Progress, January 2010.   “Wisconsin’s Repeal of Equal Pay Rights,” The Daily Beast, April 2012.   “Dual Income Parents,” Women and Work,  March 2010.   “Single Income Families account for 7% of the total,” Population Reference Bureau,  March 2003.   “Scott Walker Repeals Equal Pay Act, Amplify Your Voice, April 2012. “Walker Overturns Law to Prevent Pay Discrimination,” Think Progress, April 2012.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, Economy, employment, equal pay, family issues, income inequality, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Coffee and the Papers

##  THIS is what gives state workers and employees a bad name — double dipping members of Nevada’s  Sandoval Administration.   OK, now where’s the conservative outrage?  Interesting that when teachers put in 60-70 hour work weeks — they’re union goons feeding at the public trough.  When highway construction and maintenance personnel take a break from working with asphalt with a 180°F  delivery temperature, they’re shovel leaning goof offs.  When police officers and sheriff’s deputies put in overtime to see that there’s adequate traffic control around the stadium or arena, they’re (hiss) public employees raking it in off the taxpayers.   But, let a member of the Republican Administration double dip — and lo! It’s Simon and Garfunkle Time, or The Sound of Silence.

## Another entrant into the Nevada Congressional races.   Remember back in the day when every candidate for a federal office was running “for Sheriff,” i.e. “LawnOrder?”  “Tough on Crime?”  Now, it appears as though they’d like to be School Board members?

## Nevada saw some modest increases in taxable sales! But, not in the Carson City area where the multitude of automobile dealers felt the Tsunami from across the Pacific.

## Nevada benefits from the energy program Republicans love to hate.  When the Solyndra loan (1.3% of the total program) ran into trouble (and it seems to be the only loan in difficult straits) the GOP promptly forgot that the Bush Administration tried to get conditional approval during the transition between administrations, and that one of the prime investors was Madrone Capital Partners (read Walton Family as in Wal-Mart).  They forgot the loan guarantee was made in 2009, the audit was done in 2010, and the company raised $250 million from private investors after the supposedly “devastating” audit.  [] Mesquite and Tonopah will benefit from a program House Republicans cut out of their “job killing” budget.

As Steven Benen explains, when it comes to Solyndra, Gertrude Stein’s oft misinterpreted quote is apt — there’s no there there.”

## Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) has an interesting take on unions.  His father’s union was “good,” but now current unions are just “all about politics.”  Translation — when his father’s union membership meant that food was still making it to the table, Union membership was a very good thing.  However, now that Heck is running as an anti-union Republican, Union membership is icky.   Bulletin for Representative Heck:  Unions still help secure health benefits, safety rules, and special discounts for their members.

What’s Representative Heck supporting?  H.R. 2587 would:

GOP explanation: “H.R. 2587 would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) from ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.  The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in future and pending cases, from ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstances.  The legislation would effectively prevent the NLRB from restricting where an employer can create jobs in the United States. The bill would eliminate an extreme enforcement remedy available to the board; more than a dozen alternative remedies remain available to hold employers accountable for unlawful labor practices and make employees whole.  The bill would apply to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the NRLB has not been made by the date of enactment.”

(translation: any time workers want to organize, or organized workers want to discuss any negotiable topic, the corporation doesn’t have to listen to them, and if the NLRB wants to try to make the corporation listen — then the corporation can shut down or “move” the jobs somewhere else.  And, the NLRB can’t do anything about it.)

The bill passed the House on September 15, 2011.  A more apt title for the bill might have been “Protecting Boeing Incorporated from having to comply with NLRB Rulings.”   What the bill really does is to allow a company to “move” (outsource, offshore, etc.) jobs when employees want to organize, want to bargain, want to address safety issues, or want to protest unfair pay for women. [Trumpka pdf] H.R. 2587 isn’t just an NLRB bashing bill — it’s a frontal assault on unions…period.

## I am not at all certain how this qualifies as prudent public fiscal policy: “Washoe County commissioners will not tax vehicle owners more to pay court-ordered tax refunds for Incline Village homeowners — a decision that risks the county not having enough cash if it should be hit with a big lawsuit or some other calamity.”  [RGJ]  There might be a limit to “we don’t raise taxes in a recession” thinking … oh, say, earthquakes, fires, flooding….?

## Those discussing the environmental impactof the Nevada Test Site weren’t numerous, but some points were made:

“Launce Rake, a former Las Vegas Sun environmental writer, representing the Nevada Conservation League, was concerned over the 52 million cubic feet of radioactive waste that would be disposed of at the NNSS under the expanded operations alternative. “We’re also concerned about the transport. The urban area of Las Vegas would only have a small amount affected by transport on the existing routes. We don’t want to see those routes expanded to include downtown Las Vegas, because the population would be much greater,” Rake said. “We’re also concerned about our friends in Pahrump. First responders should be well trained.”

## Here a puzzler: How many times have Republicans charged that something coming from a Democratic source is “The Largest Tax Increase In HISTORY?”  Now, the notion that billionaires should share a bit of the cost of running the government that protects their corporate interests is The Largest Tax Increase…you get it.

## Another day another GOP attack on Planned Parenthood.   The organization is 95 years old, they provided approximately 11.4 million medical services to 3 million people in 2009.  In 2009 they had 2,327,662 “reversible contraception female clients,” and 140,648 “reversible contraception male clients.”  They tested 3,419,965 men and women for sexually transmitted diseases, and when we add in the HIV testing program a total of 3,955,000 individual were tested.  The organization provided 1,830,811 cancer screenings.  [PPH pdf] [FactCheck]  The Republicans seem to have missed the June polling from Time in which only 24% of Americans believe a woman should never have the right to choose, and the May polling done by Gallup indicating that only 22% believe that abortion should always be illegal. [TPP]

## The Drum Major Institute has an interesting, and recommended report on immigration policy and the American middle class.

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Filed under abortion, equal pay, Health Care, Immigration, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Sandoval, Taxation

>Heller votes against Equal Paycheck Act


H.R. 1338 is a fairly simple straight-forward piece of legislation. Unlike some acronymic bill titles, this one reads “Paycheck Fairness Act. And, Congressman Dean Heller (R-NV2) voted against it. The measure passed 247-178. [vote 556]

The bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to add (1) non-retaliation requirements; (2) increase penalties; and (3) authorize the Secretary of Labor to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages. The legislation also requires the EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to train EEOC employees and affected individuals and entities on matters involving wage discrimination. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require the EEOC to collect certain pay information. Directs: (1) the Commissioner of Labor Statistics to collect data on woman workers in the Current Employment Statistics survey; (2) the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to use specified types of methods in investigating compensation discrimination and in enforcing pay equity; and (3) the Secretary to make accurate information on compensation discrimination readily available to the public. [GovTrack]

Equal pay for equal work. Programs to train those who are to enforce the legislation. Realistic penalties for those not in compliance. Accurate data collection. Public release of the data collected. Evidently, Congressman Heller doesn’t think this is necessary. A couple of facts might be helpful:

  1. By 2004 the gender wage gap, once thought to be narrowing, was actually getting worse. Women were earning 75.5 cents for every dollar earned by men. [Usgov]

  2. The gap grows larger as women and men age. [EPI]

So, on behalf of all those mothers, wives, and daughters out there – thank you Rep. Heller?

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Filed under equal pay, Heller, women

>Ledbetter Fair Pay Bill stopped by GOP filibuster: Ensign votes no on cloture, McCain doesn’t vote at all

The Senate took up the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 today (H.R. 2831) and the legislation might have passed if not for a Republican filibuster. Before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) changed his vote to provide the majority with an opportunity to reconsider the motion, the cloture vote was 57-41. Senator John Ensign (R-NV) voted to uphold the filibuster. Senator John McCain (R-Running for President) was no where to be found, i.e. he did not cast a vote on this rather important bill. [roll call 110]

Republicans – while conducting their perpetual filibusters – complained about the “lack of process” in the consideration of the bill, and appeared to stake out the position that the bill would in some way change the underlying provisions of existing Civil Rights statutes. This is either simply deliberately inaccurate, or a misreading of the Supreme Court opinion that precipitated the bill in the first place. The decision did not alter the statutes in question but changed the timing required for challenges to discriminatory actions. The previous interpretation held that the clock started when the discrimination was discovered; the court ruled that the clock timing the 180 limit began with the initial discrimination. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would merely have enacted into statute the initial, and long held, interpretation of the timing requirements.

Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Inc. Supreme Court of the United States, 05-1074, Decision May 29, 2007. (pdf file)


Filed under Ensign, equal pay, Ledbetter Decision, McCain

>Equal Pay Day goes as unobserved as the legislation related to it?

>On April 20, 2003 the Nevada Legislature recognized April 15th as “Equal Pay Day” in the Silver State. At that point the Commerce Department was reporting that women were earning 76 cents for every dollar a man was paid for the same employment and that at this rate there would be only a one-half cent per year closing of the income gap. [NVLeg] Granted that yesterday was a busy news day with the cable networks running wall to wall primary coverage, and the President selecting General Petraeus as Centcom Commander – thereby quashing any more dissent from those generals to whom he has supposedly been listening. So, it’s not surprising that the 2008 version of Equal Pay Day got lost in the shuffle. It’s also not surprising that the one-half-cent-per-year rate might be considered speedy by present standards. In 2006 women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. For members of minority groups the numbers are even more dismal.

African American women earned just 63 cents on the dollar and Hispanic American women were faring worse, earning 52 cents. The unemployment rate for adult women has increased by 20% compared to a 17% increase for men. The real median wage for adult women dropped 3% while wages for adult male workers dropped by 0.5%. [Gavel]

Adding further disappointment to the situation is that the Equal Pay Act was signed back in 1963. The Bush Administration has demonstrated little, if indeed any, interest in narrowing the wage gap; and the perfectly egregious Supreme Court decision in the Ledbetter Case didn’t help matters. There is some hope on the horizon in the form of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 2831) and the Paycheck Fairness Act. (H.R. 1338)

The Senate is set to take up consideration of H.R. 2831, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is (as with all legislation now before the Senate) subject to a Republican filibuster. [NYT] The objections of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce notwithstanding, “Far from eliminating the current statute of limitations for filing pay discrimination claims, as some opponents claim, it merely restores a reasonable notion of when the clock starts running.” [NYT] Honesty has not been a hallmark of the opposition to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This is a modest bill that will most likely have only modest results; that has not, however, stopped the Chamber of Commerce from denouncing it as a scourge to the free market and an augur of doom for the American economy.

The Paycheck Fairness Act has died in every Congress since the 105th. This time Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has managed to gather 226 co-sponsors, and the bill may have a chance for passage. The companion bill in the Senate, S. 766, introduced by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has 22 co-sponsors.

Republican Senators, such as Senator Ensign (R-NV), might need reminding that in an era when the incomes of both spouses are positively necessary to meet mortgage payments and family living expenses passage of these two bills is not merely good civil rights policy, but necessary augmentations to family household budgets as well.

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Filed under equal pay, Ledbetter Decision, women