President Obama Announces Plans For Equal Pay

President Obama made an announcement today–on the 7th anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Act–regarding what he plans to do about ensuring equal pay.

Among the new rules is a provision requiring businesses employing more than 100 employees to report their payroll data to the federal government to see how much they are paying their employees based on gender, race and ethnicity. This is important, especially, given that women of color face the greatest amount of paycheck discrimination in the country.

Also, Obama says that the administration will be looking into how to assist young women into getting into high-paying STEM fields.

Obama also called upon Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. One of the most crucial provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act is that it protects workers–all workers–from being fired or penalized for discussing their pay. Let me tell you why that’s important.

At a previous job, I found out a coworker of mine made a lot more than I did. Later on down, I brought this up, and was told in hushed tones by my boss that the coworker letting me know how much she made was completely illegal and could have been fired and even sued for doing that. Now–I knew that was bullshit because I have a background in labor rights, but what if I hadn’t? Employers don’t want workers discussing wages because they want to get away with paying their employees as little as possible. That’s why they hate unions! Because collective bargaining ensures higher wages across the board.

It is very, very important for workers to be allowed to discuss wages without fear of losing their job or being otherwise penalized. Because if they don’t know how much they’re getting paid respective to what other people are, how can they advocate for themselves?