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.