Today is National Equal Pay Day and Montana celebrated this momentous day with events at the Capitol and all across the state to highlight the gender wage gap and ways we can continue to close the gap.
It was also the 100th Anniversary of the Montana Legislature passing the first law in the nation requiring women to be paid the same wage for doing the same job as a man.
Republicans responded with their own celebration by killing House Bill 547, the Paycheck Transparency Act, in Senate committee.
This bill would have allowed employees to voluntarily discuss their pay without fear of retaliation. It also encouraged employers to set pay standards on merit and market rates, not on an employee’s previous wage history.
The Montana Republicans decided to kill this important legislation to raise wages in Montana out of spite on Equal Pay Day.
But what Republicans don’t realize is that this legislation is not only good for women and working families, it will also help men.
Even in male-dominated industries, like manual labor, talking about your wage with other employees is often prohibited. Retaliation by an employer can occur and workers can be fired for discussing their wage.
Not all employers are equal, and some use these nefarious tactics to keep workers quiet about their pay and prevent them from asking for the same wages as their co-workers who are doing the same job. This tactic is used to keep wages low for both women and MEN.
Governor Bullock responded:
“It’s embarrassing that on Equal Pay Day – 100 years after our Montana Legislature led the nation in passing equal pay legislation – Republicans in this legislature today ignored their example and failed to rise to the challenge posed by the gender wage gap. Montana women and their families deserve better than this.”
When Governor Bullock took office, he set out to close the gender wage gap. In 2013, Montana women earned only 66.7% of what their male coworkers made. Bullock created the Montana Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force to identify steps to narrow the wage gap, and Montana businesses stepped up to revise their own workplace policies towards great pay equity. Nearly 300 businesses across the state have signed the Equal Pay Pledge, promising to strive for equity in their own hiring practices.
Today, the gap in Montana has narrowed to 73%, but there is so much more that can be done with legislation that benefits both men and women.
Equal pay for equal work is not a one-sided issue. It’s about making sure everyone, men and women, are paid equally and working families have more money in their pockets. This is a workers rights issue and Republicans again show they are against the rights of workers in Montana.
We need to contact the Republicans in the Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs Committee and tell them to pass this bill. You can contact the committee members by calling 406-444-4800 or by EMAIL. You can also send a message to their contact information below: