Fourth equal pay opportunity act passed

On Jan. 17, 2018, the state House passed their Equal Pay Opportunity Act for the fourth year in a row. The objective of the act was to abolish the wage gap between men and women.
The Second Substitute Bill stated, “The legislature finds that despite existing equal pay laws, there continues to be a gap in wages and advancement opportunities among workers in Washington, especially women. Income disparities limit the ability of women to provide for their families, leading to higher rates of poverty among women and children.”
It continued, “The legislature finds that in order to promote fairness among workers, employees must be compensated equitably. Further, policies that encourage retaliation or discipline towards workers who discuss or inquire about compensation prevent workers from moving forward.”
According to Katie Metzger, a journalist for the Bellevue Reporter, in the state of Washington women lose $18 billion to the wage gap each year. The equal pay law that the state was using previously, had not been updated since 1943, 75 years ago.
The American Association of University Women – henceforth referred to as the AAUW – says that the average woman is getting paid 80% of a man’s paycheck for doing the same work.
“The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate,” it stated.
Further along the webpage, it says, “Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2016, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2119.”
The pay gap varies per state, with places such as New York, California, and the District of Columbia being in the top rankings with women getting 89 percent of a man’s paycheck on average.
The worst states for the wage gap are Louisiana, Montana and Utah. Louisiana and Utah give women 70 percent of men’s paychecks on average and Montana gives 73 percent. Washington is currently placed at rank 40, giving women 77 percent of what men make on average.
The bill in question will allow people to be more open about discussing the wage gap. There are parts of the bill that prevent secrecy policies, and ban retaliation against asking for equal pay.
Senator Tana Senn, who is fighting the hardest for the bill, said, “Too often, women don’t even know they are taking home smaller paychecks due to policies or a culture around secrecy of wages. “As we remove the shroud of silence on sexual harassment, it’s time to eliminate the secrecy around wages. Information is power, and it’s time we empower women with the information and protections they need to get equal pay for equal work! Now, on to the Senate!”
For more information, call (425) 564-2461, go to https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/, or visit them on campus in room D171.

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