Patty in the News

This week, we recognize yet another Equal Pay Day — the day that marks how far into the new year women have to work to catch up with men’s wages from the previous year. Equal Pay Day is always a rude awakening for those of us who have fought for women’s equality in the workplace and society for decades and a frustrating reminder that the days when women faced discrimination in the workplace are not over.

This Equal Pay Day, a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the National Partnership for Women & Families reminds us that women in every corner of the country continue to suffer from a gender-based wage gap. It is present in all 50 states and in the 50 largest metropolitan areas, and it is hurting the nation’s families and its economy.

According to the analysis, women in the Seattle area suffer from the largest wage gap of any metropolitan area in the country. Women there are paid just 73 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a loss of more than $16,000 each year. On the other side of the country, in Baltimore, women are paid 82 cents for every dollar, taking home $10,000 less than men each year. This translates into the loss of months’ and years’ worth of basic necessities like food, rent, mortgage payments and gas.

Women make this country run. We are business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, mothers and more. We also bring home a growing share of our families’ income, as evidenced by a recent White House report, Women in America. Yet nationally, women are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and the disparity for women of color is even greater.

In Washington, there is much talk about the challenges facing America’s families and our economy, and the focus is rightfully on the importance of jobs. But the fight for jobs today and tomorrow must include measures to ensure women are paid fairly. We need an economy that works for everyone, and that’s why members of Congress must prioritize the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would mean real progress in the fight to eliminate the wage gap. It has the teeth needed to prevent discrimination and make the penalties for doing so stronger. It would make it so employers have to show that pay disparities are not gender-based. It would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information. It would make it easier for women to combat pay discrimination. And it would bring the right to fair pay in line with all other civil rights laws.

The bottom line: The Paycheck Fairness Act would help to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace, which is a matter of basic equality and economic security for America’s families. We cannot talk about jobs and strengthening our economy without it.

So this Equal Pay Day, let’s recommit to closing the wage gap. All members of Congress need to take a hard look at the damage being done in their states and districts, put politics and tired rhetoric aside, and commit to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. If they do, we will be one step closer to finally paying women fairly in this country.

Until then, we must continue to press for this important legislation. For all victims of pay discrimination, there is a new day ahead. We will get there

- Politico