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Urging common sense and fairness in the workplace, Sen. Mark Begich today gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate to push his colleagues to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill to close legal loopholes that allow for pay discrimination.
Currently, Alaska women make up 47 percent of the workforce but earn an average of 78 cents for every dollar paid to men, which over a career averages $623,000 less than their male counterparts.
In his speech, Begich said:
“One of my first votes here in the Senate was for the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and I continue to take up the fight for workplace equality. I was raised by a single mother of six from the age of 10. When I saw what my mom had to struggle through, what she had to earn to make sure we had food on the table, a comfortable life, and opportunities growing up, it is so clear to me that this is not a complicated issue. It is a fairness issue. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will allow this bill to come to a vote.”
Begich is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand on a 50-year-old bill, the Equal Pay Act, by requiring employers to demonstrate that pay disparity is solely related to job performance. It also prohibits retaliation for sharing salary information among coworkers and empowers women by allowing them to seek back pay and punitive damages for pay discrimination. The bill also creates a grant program to provide women with the tools to effectively negotiate salaries and provides the Department of Labor with funds for training efforts and outreach to eliminate pay disparities.