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Letter to the Senate in Support of the Paycheck Fairness Act

June 04, 2012

Dear Senator: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association’s (NEA), we urge you to VOTE YES on the Paycheck Fairness Act, scheduled for floor consideration this week.

NEA is particularly sensitive to issues of fair pay, 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.  Nearly half of all workers in the United States are women. But women tend to hold lower-paying jobs overall, and even when they have the exact same title as men, they make significantly less. Recent Census data indicates that women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. This gap is more pronounced for women of color with Black women earning 61 cents and Hispanic women earning 52 cents for every dollar paid to a white male. (U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey: 2009 Annual Social and Economic Supplement). 

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.  

Gender-based pay discrimination can mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a woman's lifetime.  The amount of money an average woman loses to the pay gap could feed a family of four.

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. 

We urge your support for this important legislation. 

Sincerely, 

Kim Anderson
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations