Prepared Remarks on Equal Pay Day

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Washington, DC, April 12, 2016 | comments
For those who do not know, Equal Pay Day marks how far into 2016 the average woman has to work to earn the same wages the average man earned in 2015 We are four weeks into spring. The Marlins have started their regular season and many South Florida high school seniors are picking out their prom attire. It is a national embarrassment that it takes this far into the year for women to earn what men made in the previous year.
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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Equal Pay Day Press Conference - Kaizen Beauty Academy

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning everyone. I am glad you all could join us to recognize one of the most troubling dates on our nation’s calendar – Equal Pay Day.

Thank you, Justin, for that warm introduction and for hosting us at your family’s business, Kaizen Beauty Academy.

For those who do not know, Equal Pay Day marks how far into 2016 the average woman has to work to earn the same wages the average man earned in 2015.

We are four weeks into spring. The Marlins have started their regular season and many South Florida high school seniors are picking out their prom attire.

It is a national embarrassment that it takes this far into the year for women to earn what men made in the previous year.

On average, women make 79 cents for every dollar men make.

For women of color, the gap is even worse.

African-American women make 60 cents, and Latinas make 55 cents, to every white, non-Hispanic man’s dollar.

 

<Wage Gap Stats>

Contrary to what some may believe, the gap is not the result of “women’s choices” like choosing a field that doesn’t pay well, or living in a richer or poorer state or area.

A National Women’s Law Center analysis found that in 108 of 111 occupations, the weekly median earnings of women are lower than men’s earnings – meaning that almost no matter what occupation a woman chooses, she will make less than her male counterparts.

Location also doesn’t seem to affect the wage gap. No matter what state a woman lives in, she’ll make on average less than her male counterpart.

Here in Florida, women still make only 85 cents to every dollar that men do, and in my Congressional district, Florida’s 23rd, we have the worst disparity in the state – just 75 cents on the dollar!

Let’s be clear – no matter what choices a woman makes, she is going to make less than her male counterparts.

 

<Working Families Issue>

But the wage gap isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a working families issue.

The yearly national pay gap is $10,762 between full-time working men and women – or women earning 79 percent of what men do.

The National Partnership for Women and Families calculated that if the wage gap were eliminated, the average median family in America could purchase 83 more weeks of food or 4,635 more gallons of gas or pay for more than 11 months of rent.

Those benefits would not be confined to just a few households –

A study from the Pew Research Center shows that a record 40 percent of all households with children under age 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income.

That’s right – four in ten households have a woman bringing either all, or a majority, of the income. 

And although mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in 40% of families, the wage gap for mothers is larger than for women overall.

According to 2013 data, mothers are paid 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. The statistics are even bleaker for single mothers, who are paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

So let’s be clear – the wage gap is an issue for millions of working families around the nation.

 

<Closing the Gap>

Unfortunately, this gap has plagued our nation for far too long.

President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law 53 years ago – a piece of legislation he hoped would end what he called “the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job.”

The Congress that sent him the Equal Pay Act went on to pass several landmark bills that changed the face of America – from the Equal Pay Act, to the Clean Air Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – these were laws that lifted millions of Americans up from poverty and into the middle class, no matter what party they voted for.

Unfortunately, this Tea Party extremist Congress and its leadership haven’t come close to equaling those important achievements lifting people up out of poverty.

They’ve fought and obstructed President Obama every step of the way –

from trying to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act –

to taking our nation to the brink of economic default by refusing for months to raise the debt ceiling and then shutting the government down –

to their refusing to grant a hearing to an extremely well-qualified judge  to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court –

This Republican-controlled Congress has made it abundantly clear that they want to stop progress of any kind.

To no one’s surprise, they’ve failed to take action to close our nation’s wage gap too.

 

<Paycheck Fairness Act>

I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require employers to show that wage gaps at their businesses are due to performance, not gender;

It would strengthen tools for women to seek damages for wage gaps in the same way that someone who is a victim of racial or ethnic discrimination could;

It would prohibit employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers;

It also creates a grant program to help teach women salary negotiation skills;

And it requires the U.S. Department of Labor to take a more proactive role in outreach and training efforts to eliminate pay disparities.

This legislation works to help women employees in a variety of ways – and yet House Republicans have voted nine times since 2013 to block it from even being considered on the House floor.

When women make only 79 cents on the dollar, that is not just economic malpractice – it’s a national embarrassment.

Speaker Ryan and his band of Tea Party extremists could help lift up millions of women and families by bringing this bill up for a vote.

But unfortunately, our calls for closing the wage gap have fallen on deaf ears. In Congress, we’re still waiting.

 

<Kaizen Beauty Academy>

Thankfully, business owners around the nation aren’t waiting for House Republicans to finally get their act together.

Business owners like Justin are taking it upon themselves to pay their employees equally for the same work –

They know it puts money in the pockets of working families, and that it helps boost employee and workplace morale.

But don’t take my word for it – Justin, why don’t you share your experience?

 

<Justin Nepola speaks>

Thanks so much Justin. Let’s now hear from Elizabeth, who has such an inspiring story to share.

 

<Elizabeth Garcia shares>

Thank you, Elizabeth. Now we’ll be happy to take questions.

 

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