Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
LANSING April 15, 2015– If you were anywhere on Facebook or Twitter yesterday, you probably saw #EqualPayDay trending, and stories being posted about our nation’s gender gap when it comes to paychecks. Women earn, on average, 78% of what mean earn, and here in Michigan it’s even worse with women’s pay coming in at 77% of their male counterparts.
The Michigan legislature yesterday passed a resolution recognizing Pay Equity Day, and saw a number of bills discussed which would work to close the pay gap between men and women, including legislation from Grand Rapids State Rep. Winnie Brinks.
First, the House passed House Resolution 51, declaring April 14, 2015 to be Pay Equity day in Michigan. The resolution didn’t pass, however, without a bit of controversy and contention between the Republican leadership and the Democratic sponsor.
The resolution’s sponsor, state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), accused Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) of stripping gender-gap data from the resolution, and effectively neutralizing its power.
“I believe that the Republican caucus is trying to hide the real data, the real facts and the real story behind pay inequality here,” Pagan told reporters after the vote.
But Speaker Cotter said that if Pagan wanted to keep the policy data in the resolution, it needed to go through normal committee debate and discussion. Pagan’s original resolution included many more facts and figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, than the one that eventually passed.
“We have two types of resolutions, commemorative resolutions and policy resolutions, and for good reason, policy resolutions go through the committee process,” said Cotter.
Pagan officially introduced the resolution earlier Tuesday, hoping for quick consideration on April 14, a symbolic date recognized this year by women’s equal pay advocates across the country.
The GOP-led House approved a nearly identical resolution last year without reviewing wage gap figures in committee, but Pagan said Republican leadership required “significant edits” to her version before they would put it up for a vote.
The version eventually adopted on Tuesday removed all factual assertions regarding wages, including U.S. Census Bureau figures indicating that full-time working women earned 77 percent as much as full-time working men in 2010.
“I think it weakens it,” Pagan said. “I think it buries the details about how important this issue is to the women of Michigan, to Michigan’s families and it takes away the really jaw-dropping statistic of how big the wage gap is here in Michigan.”
The revised resolution also removed language explaining that April 14 “symbolizes the time in the new year in which the wages paid to American women catch up to the wages paid to men from the previous year.”
In addition to the Pay Equity Day resolution, there was legislative action in both Lansing and Washington DC yesterday to fight gender-based pay discrimination.