President Obama on Tuesday will sign two executive orders on equal pay, one that bans retaliation against employees of federal contractors for discussing their wages, and one that instructs the Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit data on employee compensation.
The executive action coincides with Equal Pay Day, which is the day when the average American woman catches up in earnings to what the average man brought in during the previous calendar year. That’s because, on average, women make 77 cents for every dollar that men make – a disparity that is even worse for African-American women who are paid only 64 cents and Latinas who are paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men.
Equal Pay Day is also the day the Senate is set to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would give women additional – and vital – equal pay protection.
“We applaud President Obama’s actions to improve the wages and working conditions of women. But the president can only do so much through executive action and the Senate must take the next step and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The Paycheck Fairness Act would help close this gap by protecting women against gender-based pay discrimination in the same way we already protect people based on their race or ethnicity. Closing the pay gap is a moral imperative for the nation and would give fairer wages to working families, which would help grow our economy overall. The president’s actions are wins for women, for working families, and our entire economy. It’s now up to Congress to take the next step and expand these protections to all Americans.”
The action follows Obama’s executive order during this year’s State of the Union address, when he announced he would raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would expand that order nationwide later this month after the Senate’s Easter recess.