LANSING — A coalition of Michigan House and Senate legislators led by state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) and state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), co-chairs of the Progressive Women’s Caucus task force for pay equality and economic security, introduced a plan today to guarantee pay equity for all residents of the state. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, policy interventions to ensure equal status for women are critical and necessary to eliminate the stark disparity in wages between men and women not set to end in Michigan until the year 2059. House Bills 4629-40 and Senate Bills 328-39 were introduced to close that significant pay gap.

“Pay disparity doesn’t just affect individuals, it affects entire families,” said Kuppa. “I experienced the ways unequal pay impacted my mother, a leading research scientist, and our family. When I became an engineer myself, I experienced similar challenges. Our experience echoes that of thousands of women in our state and I will not rest until my daughter’s generation actually receives equal pay for equal work.” In Michigan, the average woman earns only 78 cents for every dollar made by a man. For women of color, the pay gap is even wider: African American women and Latinas on average earn only 64 cents and 56 cents for every dollar received by a man, respectively.

“The pay gap is real – across job sectors, classifications, industries and education levels, with one notable exception within union jobs,” said Geiss. “Until we end the practice of systematic, gender-based economic injustice, not only will women continue to fall into the economic chasm caused by the wage gap, our households, families, and communities will struggle.” 

Government Relations Coordinator of the American Association of University Women of Michigan Mary Pollock expressed support for the bicameral package and its effort to promote gender fairness and economic self-sufficiency for all women. “In an EPIC-MRA poll the Michigan Equal Pay Coalition commissioned last June, 84 percent of Michigan voters supported new laws to ensure that women are compensated fairly, including 67 percent who were strongly supportive,” said Pollock. “These bills will help narrow the gender pay gap and need to be passed.”

The 12-bill package was introduced on May 22nd, the 47th anniversary of Michigan ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Proposed in 1972 to affirm and protect the rights of all Americans regardless of sex, the Equal Rights Amendment is still awaiting ratification from more than ten states before it becomes a part of the U.S. Constitution.