Letter to the Senate Urging Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act
October 20, 2010
On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.3772) when Congress returns for the lame-duck session next month.
NEA is particularly sensitive to issues of fair pair, given that nearly 70 percent of our membership is female. Fair pay is critical to women's economic security, particularly in the current economic crisis. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wages of full-time, year-round workers in 2008 stood at $35,745 for women and $46,367 for men. The wage gap is even worse for women of color. In 2008, the earnings for African American women were $31,489, 67.9 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 68.7 percent in 2007); and Latinas’ earnings were $26,846, 58 percent of men’s earnings (a drop from 59 percent in 2007).
The Paycheck Fairness Act provides a much needed, first-ever update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, bringing the law’s principles and practices in line with the nation’s other civil rights laws. The bill would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by taking meaningful steps to create incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. The bill would also deter wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for violations and by prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages.
Sex-based pay discrimination can mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a woman's lifetime. In these tough economic times, when women are stepping up as primary breadwinners in increasing numbers, the need for this legislation is even more apparent.
The House has already passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. We urge the Senate to act quickly to pass this critical legislation.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy