Equal Pay for Equal Work

Categories:Articles, Guests
Dan Donoghue

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If you know us, you know that basic human rights and equality are very important to us.  Among many other things, it’s one of the reasons we’ve always believed in paying a living-wage to our employees.  It’s also one of the reasons we continue to be flabbergasted by the fact that equal pay for women for equal work is still an issue, and not just a given.  Below is a guest post by Representative Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton) about why 78% just isn’t enough (republished with permission from the Jorgensen Capitol Update 1/29/16).



Jorgensen’s Journal: 78% Is Not Enough

By: Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton)

Will your bank accept 78% of your monthly mortgage payment? How about your dog groomer, or child care provider, or auto mechanic?

Nope, 78% just doesn’t cut it.

So, why is it that some folks expect women to accept less than they’ve earned with each paycheck?

Surveys and studies have shown that our mothers, daughters, sisters, and female colleagues and friends earn just 78 cents for every dollar their male peers make. That means, in Wisconsin, a woman working full-time is paid, on average, $36,535 per year while a man with the same full-time job would make $46,898.

Surveys and studies have shown that our mothers, daughters, sisters, and female colleagues and friends earn just 78 cents for every dollar their male peers make.”

While women should be disturbed by those facts, income equality is not just an issue for women. It’s an issue all of us. You see, combined, Wisconsin women lose approximately $8.5 million every year because of the wage gap. That means families and businesses – and our entire economy – suffer as a result.

It doesn’t have to be this way – and it shouldn’t be, considering how long we’ve been working to achieve fairness for working women.

It doesn’t have to be this way – and it shouldn’t be, considering how long we’ve been working to achieve fairness for working women.”

Way back in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, requiring that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. And, this week marks the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which lifted limits on women seeking damages for violations of the Equal Pay Act.

Still, we see minimal progress on paycheck equality.

And, maybe some of that has to do with inaction on the state level.

Here in Wisconsin, in the 2009-10 legislative cycle, Democrats in power approved the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, legislation that gave women a clear legal path to challenge income discrimination. In the year following its passage, Wisconsin was one of just a few states to see the pay gap narrow.

Unfortunately, when Republicans again took control of the Legislature in the following session, the Equal Pay Enforcement Act was repealed. Progress came to a halt.

But, the work on this issue continues. My Democratic colleagues continue to push the concepts in the Equal Pay Enforcement Act both in the Capitol and in our communities. We’re writing columns and press releases and sharing information on social media, to try to raise public awareness. Now, we’ve launched a petition drive to support equal pay, which you can find on the Assembly Democrats’ legislative website.

We cannot – and I will not – just stand by and watch our mothers, daughters, female friends and colleagues struggle to be treated equally in the workplace. If you’re doing the same job, with the same qualifications as a man, you should take home the same paycheck.

If you’re doing the same job, with the same qualifications as a man, you should take home the same paycheck.”

Simply put, 78% is not enough.

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