Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

Paycheck fairness is a family issue

11th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

This week we had a setback for Louisiana families in the U.S. Senate. The Paycheck Fairness Act — which would have helped working women in Louisiana and around the country — was blocked by a partisan vote of 52-47.

This bill, which I proudly supported on the Senate floor, would have removed loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and would have provided the same remedies for gender-based pay discrimination as other forms of discrimination. This in turn would help to close the pay gap between men and women.

This is not an issue we as Americans should be divided on. Workplace equality is essential, especially as an increasing proportion of women become breadwinners for their families.

Today, women make up almost half of the workforce in Louisiana, but they only earn 69 cents for every dollar their male coworkers do. On average, these women will earn $598,000 less than their male counterparts during their lifetimes and will have to stretch their budgets further in order to make ends meet.

The gap is even wider for African-American and Hispanic women in Louisiana. Recent estimates show that African-American women who work full-time are paid 47 cents and Hispanic women 53 cents compared to each dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men in the state.

The gender pay gap is prevalent throughout all industries in Louisiana, with women’s median salaries lower than men’s in 264 of 265 occupational fields. With women earning 40 percent of their family’s income on average, this means that families have to make do with less.

Equal pay would mean that these working women could purchase 137 more weeks of food or 3,905 additional gallons of gas, and would help families make ends meet in these tough economic times.

That’s why paycheck fairness isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue — and it’s unfortunate that Louisiana families have to suffer because of a partisan filibuster.

– The Hon. Mary Landrieu
U.S. Senator

This article was originally published in the June 11, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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