President Obama Signs Actions Taking Aim at Gender Pay Gap - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

President Obama Signs Actions Taking Aim at Gender Pay Gap

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Pressing his pay-equity crusade, President Barack Obama has signed executive orders making it easier for employees of federal contractors to get information about wages. The actions aim to reduce gender gaps in compensation that continue to favor men.
 
Obama is sharply criticizing Republicans, saying they are obstacles to workplace fairness.
 
He signed an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay. He also directed the Labor Department to issue rules requiring federal contractors to provide overall compensation data by race and gender.
 
These actions were part of a concerted election-year effort with congressional Democrats to draw attention to women's pay. The Senate began debating legislation Tuesday that would make it easier for workers to sue companies for paying women less because of their gender.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor regarding Equal Pay Day and the need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that: "America is another name for opportunity." Today the United States Senate will put Mr. Emerson's words to the test, as we turn our attention to the question of equal pay. For working American women, millions of whom are now the primary wage-earners in their homes, the Paycheck Fairness Act represents a unique opportunity: the chance to better provide for themselves and their families. It is unconscionable that American women currently take home on average 77 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn for doing exactly the same work. Wage disparity holds true regardless of whether a woman has a college degree, what job she holds, or how many hours she spends at the office or factory each week. For a woman to make the same salary as a man does in one year for similar work in America, she must work not only that year, but also an additional 3 months and 8 days. That is why today, April 8 – the eighth day of the fourth month – is Equal Pay Day.  It represents the extra work American women have to put forth to provide for their families. This injustice should not be permitted to take place in modern America.

While President Obama and Democrats have made significant progress toward helping women achieve equal pay, there is still much for Congress to do. Five years ago, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law – it was the first bill he signed into law as President. That legislation was the biggest step Congress has taken on behalf of women's wages since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Although the Lilly Ledbetter Act has helped to address the pay gap, many women still suffer from a discriminatory wage disparity. The Paycheck Fairness Act goes a step further by providing protections for women in the workplace. This legislation addresses unequal wages by empowering women to negotiate for equal pay, and giving employers incentives to obey current law. It enables women workers to fight back against wage discrimination, while also preventing retaliation against employees who discuss salary information. And finally, it would give much-needed assistance to victims of gender-based pay discrimination. Simply put, the Paycheck Fairness Act gives American women the fair shot they deserve.

Unfortunately, efforts to address this issue have not been well-received by Republicans. A similar bill addressing equal pay for women was blocked by a Republican filibuster last Congress. And Senate Republicans also blocked equal pay in the Congress before that. So for the third time, Democrats bring this legislation before the Senate, hoping Republicans will finally do the right thing. In any other circumstance, Republican Senators would be up-in-arms over this type of economic discrimination. They should be up-in-arms over equal pay for women, too. Why is it that so many Republicans are content to allow a woman, working the same hours in the same job, to make less money than her male coworker? Since women now make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force, it is reasonable to assume that Republicans in this body have wives, daughters or sisters who are, or will be, affected by this wage disparity. I urge my colleagues to keep those loved ones in their thoughts as they consider the question of equal pay for women. To do otherwise would simply be unfair.

(The Associated Press also contributed to this report.)

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