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Women still in the red on equal pay

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The legislative effort to make JFK's Equal Pay Act more effective protecting women against unequal pay moved ahead during the Spring legislative break. Rep. Rosa DeLauro's Paycheck Fairness Act bill showed up this week in a subcommittee of the House Workforce Committee.

Less action than Rep. Susan Davis, and her colleageus, asked for in their before recess attempt to lock the House into a vote on the equal pay bill. An opportunity to make employers who fail to pay women equal pay for equal work handle guaranteed penalties fifty years after women started to enter the workforce in large numbers has motivated davis to stay hard at work in Washington, DC during her time in the San Diego office. Her work will stay open as long as women earn 77 cents for the dollar a man earns.

"Women continue to earn significantly less pay than men for work," the bill says.

DeLauro's bill Davis signed onto, and the Senate bill Senator Barbara Mikulski put her heart into, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the law the Equal Pay Act still stands in. Enforcement action that gives too much room to employers to get out from under the law, and continue their pay discrimination, would be stiffened. Employers would not have the opportunity to justify unequal pay to women using men's education, training, or experience that is not related to the job and needed at the business. Differences in pay truly rooted in gender differences will violate the Equal Pay Act's rules against pay discrimination.

A large group of House representatives are thinking ahead on pay discrimination. Davis has a place onthe bill's cosponsor list with the other two San Diego Democrats, Rep. Juan Vargas and Rep. Scott Peters, and a familiar set of feminist leaders and labor leaders that include Reps. Loretta Sanchez, Barbara Lee and Jackie Speier and Rep. George Miller.

The legislators agree "the Equal Pay Act has not worked as COngress originally intended." Unequal pay taken home by women earners has epressed the incomes families with more than one wage earner depend on to "make ends meet." It also has "undermined" security in retirement that, if the pay women agree on became equal, would fall in line with the security men enjoy.

To make the 1960s law more effetive, and lower the count of women earning unfair low wages, enabling many to live without asking for public assistance, employer penalties will be enhanced. Retaliation against women who talk about discrimination against them, or other employees, crosses a line the legislators decided to use a provision in the law to prohibit employers from violating.

The EEOC, one of the federal government groups affected by the law, would have to train its employees on the wage discrimination.

Rep. Susan Davis, and the other congressmembers, return to their work changing the regulation of conventional practices this upcoming week.

THis is an On The Watch Take.

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