U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline today commemorated the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act into law and, in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), reiterated his support for holding a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act to provide women with updated resources to fight wage discrimination.
"In the last 50 years, we have made progress on the issue of equal pay in the workplace, but the fact is that women on average nationwide still make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men," said Cicilline. "We need to finish the work President Kennedy started half a century ago and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act so that women have the tools they need to fight wage discrimination."
Additionally, according to a new report from the American Association of University Women, women in Rhode Island's First Congressional District still earn only 83 cents for every dollar earned by men. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of the families -- groceries, rent, child care, doctors' visits.
Equal pay is not simply a woman's issue -- it's a family issue. Families increasingly rely on women's wages to make ends meet, with the Pew Research Center estimating that women are the primary breadwinners in four out of every 10 American households with children younger than 18 years old. In 1960, women were the primary breadwinners in just 10.8% of households with children under 18.
"I'm proud to serve as an original co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would finally update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act -- something that Congress has failed to do for five decades," added Cicilline. "In 2013, there is no reason that women should continue to earn less than men in the workplace and I will continue fighting to address this very important issue."
The Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens and closes loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, including by providing effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work and protecting employees from retaliation for sharing salary information with their co-workers.
The full text of Cicilline's letter to Boehner is embedded below:
Dear Speaker Boehner,
As you know, today marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act into law -- a watershed moment for equality in the workplace that has helped reduce, but not completely close, the wage gap that exists between men and women in the United States.
Fifty years ago, women who were working full-time, year-round made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men. Today, that figure stands at 77 cents -- clearly we need to do more to eliminate this gap and finish the work that Congress and President Kennedy started in 1963.
In Rhode Island's First Congressional District, the gap stands at 83 cents -- better than the average but still not good enough. Since I was first elected to Congress, I have heard from dozens of Rhode Islanders who want to know when the federal government will finally update the Equal Pay Act and provide women with the resources they need to effectively fight wage discrimination.
That's why I am writing to you today and urging that you hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act -- legislation that would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and ensure that employees are not punished for sharing information on their salaries with coworkers.
This bill, which passed the House in the 111th Congress and has garnered the support of 206 co-sponsors in the 113th Congress, would help to ensure that working women are always treated based on their merits as employees.
In 2013, there is no reason that women should either continue earning less than men in the workplace or still lack the appropriate resources to fight discrimination. I urge you to expedite consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act to provide long-overedue protections for working women.
My best always,
David N. Cicilline
Member of Congress