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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media in the State Dining Room after meeting with BP executives about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, at the White House in Washington, June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS DISASTER
President Barack Obama is marking Equal Pay Day by announcing two executive orders strengthening equal pay protections at federal contractors. One of the orders will prohibit employer retaliation against workers who inquire about or share pay information, making it easier for women to find out if they are being discriminated against, and the other will call for the Labor Department to collect pay information from federal contractors, with the data including race and gender to make it easier to identify employers who discriminate.

Like Obama's executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, these measures extend to federal contractors some of the protections in bills congressional Republicans have blocked. In this case, these orders are provisions from the Paycheck Fairness Act; it would be much better if Congress would pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and apply them to all American businesses, but some is better than none, and none is what we'll get from John Boehner's House. (This is also a logic it would be nice to see the president apply to an executive order extending protections for LGBT workers to federal contractors.)

People who don't want to see equal pay predictably sneered at these measures, though since they don't typically want to admit that they oppose equal pay, they like to pretend that their opposition is about something else. For instance:

"Even while the government just collects data, employers will be encouraged to see their compensation decisions through he eyes of a government bureaucrat," said Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of the Independent Women's Forum, which opposes the executive orders. The orders, she said, "will do nothing to promote fairness and certainly wont help more women to get a paycheck."
Yes, employers will be encouraged to see their compensation decisions through the eyes of a government bureaucrat who's trying to ensure equal compensation. If they look at their data and see glaring discrepancies, maybe they'll try to fix it before the government steps in to push them to do so. The objection "ooh, scary, the government will try to push your boss to not discriminate against you" may have less resonance for the average American worker than Schaeffer hopes. But it's totally par for the Republican course of caring much more about the employer's right to discriminate than about the worker's right not to be discriminated against.

The Senate also plans a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act to mark Equal Pay Day, but again, Republicans will prevent it from getting a House vote even if they don't filibuster it in the Senate. Equal Pay Day marks the date in 2014 when the average woman catches up with the average man's 2013 income.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 06:41 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  repubs should add equal pay to their school (0+ / 0-)

    curriculum on women. read where yet another school for repubs on "women" is taking place.

    i think they flunked out years ago. and that home schoolin is just so limited- teaches no social skills

  •  That's just what you'd expect an OVERWEENING (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    tyrant to do!

    Isn't "overweening" a fun word?

  •  LOL Can't wait to see the GOP hissy over THIS one (0+ / 0-)

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 07:48:45 AM PDT

  •  Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah (9+ / 0-)

    Not to go all biblical on you but, this act by the President reminds me of an old Harold Washington quote "Every man a king, every woman a king, this is heaven on earth" on the passage of an anti-corruption bill by the Chicago City Council.  

    I have worked in HR.  I can say, sadly, that women, especially older women, uppity women, smart women, over-qualified women, women of color, LGBT women, virtually all women are discriminated against in their wage rates based solely on their gender.  This act opens the door to the truth about women's wages.  

    Do you know why your employer "discourages" you from discussing your wages?  or actively punished those who do?  Because you're getting screwed.  And you will have absolutely NO WAY of knowing this without wage comparisons.  

    In the HR field, benefits and employment and payroll are mostly staffed by women.  Compensation and labor relations  (union contracts) are mostly staffed by men.  As long as compensation is mostly a male field, the private personal biases of men will continue to influence how "women's jobs" are described and therefore evaluated for pay.  (Not surprisingly, compensation and labor relations pay the highest rates in the HR field.)

    One of the biggest tricks in Compensation is to use downgraded language or words to describe the work that women do, and upgraded language or words to describe the work that men do, even if the difference is trivial, that difference is what is used to justify a higher rate for "one job" versus "another job" when what is really happening is that the "woman's job" is paid less than the "man's job".

    Until wage rates and job descriptions become public and accountable, wage theft from women in the values of millions of dollars, at the most basic level will continue.

    Congratulation to President Obama for this first step.

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 07:50:21 AM PDT

  •  Obscuring pay data is a legitimate (0+ / 0-)

    interest of business management.

    If employee A is earning X and employee B is earning x+50%. If employee A finds out, they will be discouraged even if the pay discrepancy is merited.

    The government doing audits of companies if legally required can be done entirely interdependently of company policies and disclosing your salary to peers.

    •  Perhaps. But pay secrecy rules are illegal. (0+ / 0-)

      A ban on employees discussing thier pay violates the right, under the NLRA to engage in concerted activity for mutual benefit.  (However, the rules are legal for employees not covered by the NLRA, namely supervisors and management).

  •  I am all for equal pay! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eru, j rock

    I think we should all get paid what CEO's do.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 08:11:36 AM PDT

  •  Independent Women's Forum my ass (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CanyonWren, TheLizardKing, kfunk937

    Why do so many right-wing groups have names which describe the opposite of what the truely are?

    Republican Health Care Plan: marry a Canadian.

    by shoeless on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 08:13:21 AM PDT

  •  The NLRA already allows workers to discuss pay (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eru, ggrzw

    with other workers, if they so choose.

    If your employer has a policy that prohibits you from discussing your pay with other employees, that is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, and constitutes an unfair labor practice.

    •  The NLRA didn't cover Lilly Ledbetter. (0+ / 0-)

      She was a supervisor, and therefore, wasn't an "employee" under the Act.  So Goodyear would have been within its rights to fire her if she had had asked other employees how much they were making.

      Hopefully, this executive order will, in addition to broadening the reach of the ban on pay-secrecy rules, will raise awareness that the NLRA makes pay-secrecy rules illegal for rank-and-file employees.

  •  On The Cycle, Abby Huntsman accused the President (0+ / 0-)

    of bypassing Congress by signing these executive orders.  This is NOT bypassing Congress, this is LEADING, something the RW asserts the President is not doing.  Can't have it both ways!!

    "We're not perfect, but they're nuts!" (Barney Frank)

    by JourneyInside on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 12:28:11 PM PDT

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