***WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Speech on the Senate Floor HERE***
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand took to the Senate floor to mark Equal Pay Day and to urge her colleagues to pass legislation that would help to finally close the gender wage gap in the United States. Equal Pay Day is the day in the new year when the salary of the average woman catches up to the salary earned by the average man in the previous year.
Gillibrand called on her colleagues to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would combat wage discrimination by giving the Department of Labor new tools to enforce equal pay, ban retaliation against workers who discuss wages, and prohibit employers from relying on the salary history of prospective employees to determine future salary. This legislation passed in the House of Representatives last week. Gillibrand is an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate. She urged her colleagues to move swiftly to pass this bill to help ensure equal pay for equal work.
Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
M. President, I rise to speak about a very disturbing annual milestone that we are, once again, marking today.
Today is the day known as Equal Pay Day, and here’s what that means:
The average woman has to work fifteen months just to get paid what the average man earned in one year alone.
And the reason today is Equal Pay Day is that it’s the day in the new year when the average woman finally gets paid what the average man earned in the year before.
And if you’re a woman of color, on average, you have to work even longer to get paid what the average man earned in one year.
M. President, it’s outrageous that we still don’t have equal pay for equal work in the United States in the year 2019.
It’s shameful that women across the country are being underpaid for their hard work.
It’s disgraceful that our gender wage gap is as large as it is.
And this is happening at a moment when more women than ever before are working outside the home.
When many women are the primary breadwinner in their families.
M. President, all of this is a glaring reminder of how badly our economy is failing so many workers and their families all over our country.
And above all else, it’s a reminder to all of us that we as a country are still struggling to value women.
That we are still struggling to protect women from wage discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, workplace harassment, and an unfair minimum wage.
That we are still struggling to ensure that women and their families have access to paid leave, and affordable childcare.
M. President, all of these things add to the gender wage gap. They make it even worse.
If a woman isn’t getting paid a fair wage – the wage she actually deserves, the wage she earned by putting in hours of hard work – then that hurts her, it hurts her family, it hurts her children.
And it hurts our whole economy. It weakens the middle class. It’s bad for our country.
M. President, there is no excuse for any of this.
It is something that all of us should be doing everything in our power to correct, because the fact that we still don’t have equal pay for equal work is an embarrassment for this country.
We need equal pay for equal work. We need it now.
And right here in this chamber, we have a responsibility to make sure our workplace policies and our laws are actually protecting women, protecting their families, and protecting our economy as a whole.
And one of the best ways we can solve this problem is by finally passing a law that guarantees equal pay for equal work once and for all.
The good news is we already have a bill, ready to go right now, that would help us get there.
It’s called the Paycheck Fairness Act. It already passed the House, and the only thing stopping it now is the Senate.
This bill would ban retaliation against workers who discuss their wages.
It would give the Department of Labor new tools to enforce equal pay around the country.
And it would prohibit employers from relying on the salary history of prospective employees when they’re deciding how much to pay them.
M. President, this bill would help end wage discrimination. It would make our families stronger. It would strengthen our economy.
Don’t you want to do that, M. President?
So what are we waiting for?
Congress needs to step in now. We need equal pay for equal work.
I yield the floor.