House Democrats Call for Action on Pay Equity Package

Bills establishing pay equity stuck in committee for a year
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

LANSING — House Democrats demanded today that Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township), the chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, hold a hearing on a package of legislation that would address the wage gap between men and women in Michigan. Introduced more than a year ago, the legislation has yet to receive any testimony before the committee.

“Making sure that people with the same experience, skills and qualifications get the same pay for the same work is a matter of fairness and simple common sense,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said. “But rather than support economic security for Michigan families, House Republicans stalled these bills. Michigan women and their families deserve better than this.”

The legislation takes aim at a persistent pay gap that exists between men and women in Michigan. Michigan ranked 43rd in the nation in pay equity in 2013, according to National Partnership for Women and Families. The average full-time working woman makes about $36,772, while the average man makes about $49,897. The pay gap for women of color is even greater, with African-American women earning an average of 64 cents to a dollar earned by men, while Latinas earn an average of 54 cents on the dollar.

“Women can’t afford to take a pay cut simply because they are women,” said Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon), who heads the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “The gap in pay makes it harder to feed children, pay utility bills and save up for a college education. Michigan families need pay equity.”

The House Democrats’ pay equity package includes legislation to:

• Prohibit an employer from failing to provide equal compensation for work of comparable value for several reasons, including sex (House Bill 4518 - Rep. Gretchen Driskell)
• Create penalties for employers who pay different wages to men and women who are “similarly situated” – employees with similar qualifications, experience, etc. (HB 4519 - Hovey-Wright)
• Create a state commission on pay equity (HB 4517 – Rep. Dian Slavens)
• Require an employer to provide, at an employee’s request, wage information for “similarly situated employees” (HB 4516 – Rep. Collene Lamonte)

“These bills simply assure women that they will get an equal deal in the workplace,” Rep. Gretchen Driskell(D-Saline) said. “Making sure our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters get equal pay for their hard work shouldn’t be a partisan issue. No one wants to see the people they love treated unfairly.”

House Republicans have already joined with Democrats to declare April 8, 2014 Pay Equity Day in the state of Michigan through House Resolution 337, sponsored by Rep. Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge). Abed hopes House Republicans will now take further action to make pay equity a reality in Michigan. “I urge my colleagues across the aisle to give their support to these bills and urge Rep. Lund to hold a hearing on them,” Abed said. “Ensuring everyone in Michigan gets a fair shake in the workplace is something everyone can get behind. It’s time for pay equity in Michigan.”