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Public Statements

Paycheck Fairness Act--Motion to Proceed--Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, first, let me say thank you to the champion. We have just been hearing from the champion, not only in the Senate but in the Congress, on so many issues that have led to empowerment for women and equality for all people to have a chance to succeed in our economy. Certainly, whether it is preventive health for women or the Paycheck Fairness Act, I thank Senator Mikulski for leading the way and being the person we look to. I am proud to stand with Senator Mikulski on the floor of the Senate.

Since our founding, our country has been a destination for those who seek equal treatment and equal opportunity. Across the world, America is known as the land of opportunity. I am very proud we have that label. Our hard work and ingenuity built the country, brick by brick, city by city. My home State of Michigan was right in the middle of it--building the tools, the vehicles that built our country and that, frankly, built the middle class of our country. Those looking for new opportunity, those with entrepreneurial spirit have always been welcome here in America.

People still make the journey to this country in search of a better life. We tell the world that everyone has equal opportunity, that if they put in just as much hard work as their neighbor, they will earn a decent living and be able to provide for their family. But that is only half true. Everyone can work hard, everyone can be successful, but for some reason it is acceptable that women do not need to be paid as much as men for the exact same work. This is unacceptable. That is what this legislation is all about.

Nationally, women make 77 cents for every $1 a man makes for the exact same job. In Michigan, the numbers are even worse. Women make 74 cents on every $1 for the exact same job. I received countless letters from constituents describing how this affects their lives and their families' lives. Teresa from Detroit is a single mom with two daughters. One daughter is in college. Teresa tries to help her out as much as she can, but she gets paid less than her male coworkers for doing the same work so it is tough.

Pamela from Romulus, MI, is the sole breadwinner in her house, supporting her husband who is a disabled Vietnam veteran and their children. She works at a corporation and took over a man's job. Then the company changed the title so they could pay her less.

Craig from Lowell wrote in to tell me his story. By the way, this is a common story in Michigan over the last number of years. He lost his job in 2008 because of the recession. His wife had to support their entire family of four. The family had to go on food assistance, something they never thought in their wildest dreams they would have to do because Craig's wife has been working at the same company for 23 years but has not gotten a raise in the last 4 years and makes several dollars an hour less than her male counterparts.

Melissa from Ann Arbor is the sole breadwinner in a family of four. She figured out if she were paid the same as her male colleagues, she would take home an extra $1,000 a month after taxes. She said that $1,000 would make her family more stable and let Melissa and her husband take her children on trips, give them new opportunities, allow them to be enrolled in sports and save for retirement--that extra $1000 a month.

Cheryl from Okemos has had to take a second job just to make as much as her male counterparts at her day job, and it has cut down on how much time she can spend with her family. She has a second job just so she can make as much as her colleagues who work one job--she has two jobs. The tradeoff for her is as a mom spending less time with her family. She is able to feed and clothe their children, but she says she is missing out on watching them grow up--also a very important value we talk about all the time on the floor of the Senate, in terms of values for families.

Linda from South Lyon wrote about her lifetime of being discriminated against just because she is a woman. Over her career she has consistently made less than men in the same industry with the same job description. One executive even told her he only hires women because they work harder and he can pay them less. They work harder, but he should not be able to pay them less.

Sandra from Marshall has worked as an engineer at the same company for 28 years. She has been rated as one of the company's best performers. Despite this, she has never risen to the level where she earns bonuses and a better pension--a level in her company that is dominated by men.

She has countless people she has hired and trained and watched them pass her by. These stories are real.

Jennifer, from the west side of Michigan, is a university teacher and athletic coach. She was the head coach of a varsity women's team and taught six classes. She saw men in the same position make more money while they taught fewer classes. She watched them receive tenure with master's degrees while she was required to work toward a Ph.D. to be eligible for the
same tenure. She was denied tenure despite good performance evaluations. Yet a male assistant coach at the university was given tenure without a Ph.D. because he had a family. These are real stories.

This is about families, economic opportunities, and security for families. America is known as the land of opportunity, and people still make the journey to our great country in search of a better life. Everyone has an equal chance to work hard and everyone can be successful, but not everyone gets the same opportunity to be successful.

Women in Michigan make 74 cents for every dollar a man earns for the exact same job. There are so many families in Michigan struggling right now. It should not be harder on them just because the primary breadwinners are women. It is just not right.

Middle-class families need economic security, and that is why we need the Paycheck Fairness Act. We have made strides to move forward. This is not complicated. It is not rocket science. It is very simple. This is about equal pay for equal work. We talk the talk all the time. It is time to walk the walk and to pass this bill.


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