LANSING – State Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline), Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) and Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, spoke at a press conference this week about issues relating to women’s economic security. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) was also in attendance, along with other state legislators.

“Women aren’t just 50 percent of our communities — more women are the primary wage earners for their households than ever before. As a single mother, I know how extremely important these issues are to women and their families,” Driskell said. “My colleagues and I are eager to get to work improving the lives of all hard working Michiganders.”

One of the primary issues discussed at the event was equal pay. On average, Michigan women earn 74 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make, which is less than the national average of 77 cents. House Democrats introduced legislation last term to help Michigan women achieve pay equity. However, the bills never received a hearing and died in committee.

“Last year was the 50th anniversary of the federal Equal Pay Act, and at the pace we’re going, it’ll take another 50 years to achieve total pay equity,” Hovey-Wright said. “When women are paid less just because of who they are, children and families suffer. We need legislation in place to ensure that the workplace is fair for everyone.”

The lawmakers also addressed a proposal for earned paid sick leave. The legislation would allow full- and part-time workers to accrue leave time so they could care for themselves or a sick family member without missing a day’s pay or be forced to go to work sick, exposing co-workers and customers to their illness.

“Not only is this a public health issue, but we want workers to have the peace of mind knowing they can take care of a sick child without enduring a smaller paycheck,” Pagan said. “This economic security is good for workers and good for businesses that thrive with healthy, productive employees.”