Today, advocates from all over the state including the Women’s Law Project gathered at the Capitol in Harrisburg to call for lawmakers to fix Pennsylvania’s broken equal pay law.
Some of the same lawmakers who have been busy trying to hustle a double abortion-ban into law without a public hearing have completely ignored proposed equal pay bills, despite robust evidence submitted during hearings on equal pay last year that revealed pay discrimination is a problem in Pennsylvania, and the current law has too many gaps and is too weak to address it.
House Bill 1160, sponsored by Representatives Brian Sims and Tina Davis, has been sitting in committee since May, 2015. Senate Bill 303, sponsored by Senators Teplitz and Williams, has been left to languish since January, 2015.
If some PA lawmakers would stop trying to play doctor, perhaps they would have time to start playing legislator, and work toward finding real solutions to real systemic problems that put Pennsylvania women at a disadvantage simply for living in this state.
Without simple corrective policies that close gaps in current equal pay law, American women, on average, will not achieve equal pay until 2058. Pennsylvania women, however, are not on track to earn equal pay until the year 2072.
“It’s time for a stronger equal pay law,” said Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia). “Pennsylvania women are paid on average 54 to 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, depending on which county they live in. Equal work deserves equal pay. Anything less is unacceptable.”
“Wage inequality and pay secrecy are not only a detriment to working women, but to families,” said Sen. Rob Teplitz, (D-Dauphin/Perry). “Women make up half of our workforce, and many Pennsylvania households are headed by women, so improvements to the pay equity law not only impact women, but their families as well.”
Pennsylvania’s equal pay law has not been updated since 1967… when it was amended so that it would apply to fewer people.
“House Bill 1160, [our] equal-pay legislation, should be at the forefront of everyone’s legislative efforts,” said Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bucks). “It is unacceptable that the effort to provide economic opportunity and equality is allowed to wallow in committee for eleven months. Let’s get House Bill 1160 out of committee and to votes before the House and Senate.”
When the Pennsylvania Legislature fails to take simple steps to address discrimination, they are failing Pennsylvania families.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.
Text: Tara Murtha