Democrats Court Support With Tuesday's 'Equal Pay Day'

Sunday, 06 Apr 2014 09:56 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats will make a large-scale coordinated effort on Tuesday, when Obama will sign two executive actions on equal pay and Senate Democrats will move for a show vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The moves are being made just ahead of this year's midterm elections, with Democrats in jeopardy of losing their hold on the Senate, meaning Republicans could hold majorities in both congressional chambers, reports Politico.

Polls and focus groups are showing Democrats that pressing Republicans on equal pay measures are proving effective for attracting not only women's votes, but men as well.

“This is not just an issue that appeals to or affects women, said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil. "And the only response Republicans have is to pretend the problem doesn't exist at all.

One of Obama's new executive orders on Tuesday, or "Equal Pay Day," will prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their salaries, while the other order will instruct Labor Secretary Tom Perez to create new regulations that require federal contractors to report salary summary data, including sex and race breakdowns to the government in hopes of encouraging other employers to submit their data voluntarily.

Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages.

Census statistics showing the latest wage figures are not available until late August or September, but NCPE leadership decided years ago to select a Tuesday in April as Equal Pay Day. Tuesdays are used to represent how far into a work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week, organizers said.

Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the first bill Obama signed as president to allow women to recover wages lost to discrimination, will be at the White House for the signing event.
In addition, the president is planning a speech to call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

And as Senate Democrats push Tuesday, the DSCC will launch its "GOP Pay Gap" campaign, including state-by-state data on pay differences and more.

The Democratic National Committee also plans a social media campaign, along with EMILY's List, including a call with female Latina leaders to combine efforts directed to women and Latinos concerning pay differences.

EMILY’s List, which boosts female candidates' campaigns, will be working on the local level concerning information guidance about wage issues.

Republican consultant Katie Packer Gage, whose firm is geared to help her party appeal more to women, said women believe they are paid less than men, and says Republicans should speak out strongly in favor of equal pay for equal work. Further, she said, they should say the Paycheck Fairness Act, but press the idea that the bill won't be enough to change matters.

"Ever notice that the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act is about 10 times longer than the bills originally surrounding pay fairness?," she said. "It’s so obviously a political statement. In an honest world, this bill would be called the ‘trial lawyer job security act.'"

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