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By Deborah J. Vagins, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office

As the clock ticks down in the 111th Congress, there is little time left to finish critical pieces of legislation. In this economic downturn, however, there is nothing more urgently needed than helping families bring home fair wages.  Unfortunately, a pernicious wage gap remains between women and men doing the same job, making this hard time even more difficult. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2008, women, on average, made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For women of color, the wage gap is even wider.

Before Congress adjourns again in a few weeks, they have to opportunity to really do something to help American workers. The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182), a much needed update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, sits in the U.S. Senate and is poised for passage. The Equal Pay Act was intended to ensure equal pay for equal work, but over time, because weak remedies and loopholes in the law, significant disparities in pay persist. The Paycheck Fairness Act would give employees the legal tools they need to finally close the wage gap.

The bill already passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support and now has 40 cosponsors in the Senate - more than it has ever had in any previous Congress. In addition, President Obama, Vice President Biden and other senior members of the administration have announced their support for this important legislation, citing the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act as an important step towards the economic security of women and our nation’s families. And when recently polled, 84 percent of American voters expressed support for a new law to create more avenues for women to receive fair wages.

With the clock ticking away, we need our Senators to act now, which means they need to hear from you. There are a few things you can do today make your voices heard:

  • You can send an email to your Senators urging them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act. You can take action here.

  • You can also call your Senator toll-free at 1-877-667-6650 on September 15-16 and ask them to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act before the end of September! Just dial 1-877-667-6650 and the simple instructions will direct you to your Senators’ offices.

  • You can tweet (#fairpay) or blog about the Paycheck Fairness Act. Let your Senators know that you want them to act on this bill before they leave for the campaign season.

The Senate must pass this bill before they adjourn, or we will have to start all over again with a new House and Senate next year. Every call, email or tweet makes a difference in these final weeks. Please take a few moments to contact your Senator and ask them to pass Paycheck Fairness for women and their families before time runs out.

Originally posted to ACLU on Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 11:17 AM PDT.

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