Op-ed: Women Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work
Former state treasurer and secretary of finance writes in support of Tim Kaine.
Equal pay for equal work. Seems simple, right? But as with many things in Washington, a bill that would simply ensure women are paid equal wages for the same day’s work is facing stiff opposition from a Republican Congress.
Here in Virginia, women earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, regardless of education level or occupation. And for those of us who’ve seen their mothers or sisters or daughters work, it’s certainly not for lack of effort or ability.
In an economy where families increasingly rely on the wages of women, this is unacceptable. Currently, more than 371,000 households are headed by female wage earners—so when they succeed, our economy and our state succeed. While 21 cents may not seem like a significant discrepancy, consider that those pennies translate to thousands of dollars each year and hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Just think of what a difference that would make in your family’s finances—it could pay for child care costs, help save for college, buy hundreds of gallons of gas, or a bunch of groceries. In these economic times when resources are tight for everyone, women should have every tool at their disposal to ensure they are getting a fair shake.
As a small business owner, I want my employees to succeed and I know the difference every dime can make to balance your books or invest in your future. As a mom, I want my daughters to be afforded equal opportunities in their careers. And as a Virginian, I know that we cannot tolerate discrepancies in opportunity. Virginia is a place where hard work pays off, but we’ve got to ensure an equal playing field.
This is why it is fundamentally important that the Congress pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and that Virginia send a U.S. Senator to Washington who will fight for economic opportunities for women. The Paycheck Fairness Act would seem like common sense to most people. It would prohibit retaliation against women who seek out information about salaries, make discrimination based on gender just as serious as other types of wage discrimination, and help businesses comply with fair practices.
Throughout his life, Tim Kaine has demonstrated that he knows what it takes to support women in their economic pursuits. Whether it was increasing opportunities for women-owned businesses like my own, or fighting for the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Tim has always been there for Virginia families.
Tim is committed to providing women in Virginia and across the country with the tools they need to combat wage discrimination and has clearly stated his support for equal pay. Anyone who is a mom knows that while that will always be our most important job, it’s essential that we have the resources needed to put food on the table, gas in our tanks, and save for our children’s education.
George Allen on the other hand has a record of the wrong priorities when it comes to issues that matter most to women’s economic opportunity. When he first campaigned to go to Washington, Allen opposed overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation that would provide women with recourse to fight wage discrimination. And when he was in Congress, he voted against the Family Medical Leave Act that made sure no parent had to choose between taking care of a sick kid or an aging parent, and keeping their job. Whether it has been opposing child-care tax credits or workplace protections—George Allen’s career in Washington has already shown he hasn’t been there when the women of Virginia needed him. And as he asks Virginians to send him back to the Senate, he has refused to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—a milestone in the fight for wage discrimination.
If you’re looking for a Senator who will truly fight for equal economic opportunities for women and has all his life, that candidate is Tim Kaine. The stakes are just too high to take a chance on George Allen’s bad record.
Jody Wagner is a small-business owner who served as State Treasurer of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. She was appointed by Kaine as the Commonwealth’s first female Secretary of Finance from 2006 to 2008.