Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus: Women Need Equal Pay Now

Pending legislation still awaits action as women continue to earn unfair wages
Thursday, October 15, 2015

LANSING — In the six months since the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus has introduced a plan to make equal pay the law in Michigan, the average full-time working Michigan woman has lost about $6,369 in wages compared to the earnings of the average full-time working man in Michigan. While the Republicans who lead the Michigan House of Representatives continue to deny these bills a hearing, Michigan women are paying the price.

“Men and women both work hard at school to prepare for good careers. Men and women both work as hard and shoulder the burden of providing for their families. So when it comes to getting paid, men and women with the same training, experience and jobs should be paid equally,” said Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon), the chairwoman of the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus’ Equal Pay Subcommittee. “That’s not been the case, and women continue to suffer from a persistent pay gap. It’s time for us to close that gap so that women will know they are earning their true worth in Michigan.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the median wage for a full-time working woman in Michigan is $37,419 – 25.3 percent less than the median full-time working man’s wage of $50,157. For minority women, the disparity in pay in even greater. This pay gap persists no matter how much education a woman has, or in which career she chooses to work. Even in fields traditionally filled by women – such as teaching and nursing – men tend to earn higher wages.

“This package of bills supports women and supports families,” Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) said. “The fastest way to a stable and prosperous middle class is by guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. Families are increasingly dependent on women’s earnings to make ends meet. Without equal pay, families suffer and the economy suffers. As a state, Michigan has the responsibility to get this done.”

The bills in the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus’ equal pay package would:

  • Require employers to disclose, upon request, certain wage information for similarly situated employees.
  • Create a commission on equal pay within the Department of Civil Rights.
  • Amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include equal compensation for work of comparable value.
  • Establish equal pay certificates for state contractors.
  • Require employers to post and inform employees about equal pay laws.
  • Establish an employer incentive awards program for equal pay.
  • Require the state to compile an equal pay report with the goal of decreasing wage disparity between sexes.
  • Expand the prohibition of wage discrimination by amending the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act.
  • Allow remedies for wage discrimination under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

While Michigan’s Legislature continues to neglect these bills, refusing to even let them get hearings in committee, California has forged ahead with its own plan, and is adopted one of the strongest equal pay laws in the nation earlier this month. Meanwhile in Michigan, women continue to wait for fair wages.

“When it comes to utility bills, rent, car payments and mortgages, women are expected to pay as much as men. So when it comes to their paychecks, they should be paid as much as well,” said Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit). “Women are increasingly the sole or primary wage-earner in their families, so when they aren’t paid their worth, the whole family suffers. Let’s end the wage gap and bring pay equity to Michigan by giving our bills a hearing. Michigan families can’t wait any longer.”