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“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. You better believe women will be at that table.” Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s vice president of government relations and advocacy, rallied the crowd on Capitol Hill with these words on Equal Pay Day as the Paycheck Fairness Act was reintroduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the House of Representatives and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in the Senate.
April 4 marked the date that women’s salaries finally caught up to men’s from last year. At the current rate, the gender pay gap will not close until the year 2152—but not if we can help it! AAUW continues to fight for fair pay on Capitol Hill and in statehouses nationwide. Our members and supporters like you have worked hard to pass equal pay bills in states like California and New York; you hosted Equal Pay Day events; you contacted your federal legislators tourge them to support legislation aimed at closing the pay gap.
Equal Pay Day doesn’t end on April 4, however. The pay gap is worse for women of color, so there are many Equal Pay Days to come this year. For Moms we will mark the day on May 23, for African American women on July 31, for Native American women on September 25, and for Latina and Hispanic women on November 2. Congress will be heading home for two weeks starting today. This is a perfect opportunity for you to meet with your senators and representative in their district offices to let them know about these upcoming Equal Pay Days for women of color and for mothers.
“There’s no silver bullet to closing the pay gap,” says Lisa Maatz. “But if we do nothing, the gap won’t close for more than 100 years. It is time for us to put aside politics and do what is right for working women and their families.”
*There will be no Washington Update on April 14 and April 21. Washington Update will resume on April 28 when Congress is back in session.*
Neil Gorsuch Confirmed as Newest Supreme Court Justice
Today, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to be the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. By a vote of 54-45, senators confirmed Gorsuch, a Denver-based judge who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Most Senate Democrats insisted that Gorsuch face a 60 vote threshold for his confirmation to move forward. Because Senate Republicans did not have the votes needed to meet this procedural requirement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) invoked the “nuclear option.” As a result, the Senate voted (52-48) to change the rules for confirming a Supreme Court justice to now only require a simple majority, 51 votes. AAUW watched Gorsuch’s hearings closely, and after careful consideration of both his record and testimony, opposed his confirmation. This week, AAUW members attended a rally on Capitol Hill to urge the Senate to oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation. Judge Gorsuch has consistently sided with employers, failing to protect workers who have been wronged, including women who experience sex discrimination in the workplace. He has also failed to agree to uphold Roe v. Wade, and when given the opportunity to support women’s access to reproductive healthcare, he sided with women’s bosses and corporations.
Paycheck Fairness Act Re-Introduced on Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day marked the reintroduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 1869/S. 819) in the House and Senate by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). The Paycheck Fairness Act is a comprehensive bill that strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by taking meaningful steps to create incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. AAUW’s Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy Lisa Maatz joined members of Congress for a press conference on Capitol Hill to rally support for the bill’s introduction. Take action and urge your members of Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act here.
President Trump Proclaims April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
President Donald Trump has proclaimed April 2017 as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. President Barack Obama became the first president to issue this proclamation in 2009. During a statement this week, President Trump outlined ways to eliminate sexual assault and violence, including increasing awareness, creating systems to protect vulnerable populations, and sharing successful tactics. Activist groups have noted the irony of President Trump’s proclamation considering the release of a tape in which talked about groping women without their consent.
Small Businesses Show Overwhelming Support for Paid Family Leave
A new survey by Small Business Majority and the Center for American Progress indicates that a majority of small business owners support paid family leave programs. Seven out of ten small businesses owners support the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. AAUW advocates for greater availability and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance, including providing greater coverage to workers in all private sector companies and creating a self-sustaining insurance fund. Tell your members of Congress to pass the FAMILY Act to protect American workers, benefit businesses, and support the overall economy here.
There were countless Equal Pay Day events hosted by AAUW members nationwide, so we couldn’t just choose one to spotlight! Check out our recap of the rallies, bake sales, and lobby days hosted by AAUW branches, states, and student organizations! You can also see how our national headquarters “celebrated” Equal Pay Day in Washington, D.C.
AAUW Cheer of the Week
In an interview with The Washington Post, actress and activist Patricia Arquette recommended that Ivanka Trump meet with AAUW’s Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy Lisa Maatz to effectively work on women’s issues, especially on equal pay.
AAUW Jeer of the Week
Members of the Prince William County, Virginia Board of County Supervisors blocked a proclamation recognizing Equal Pay Day in the county. The Chairman and three other board members stated that any discussion of the gender pay gap was a “political issue” not fully based in fact.
Bits and Pieces
- The White House does not plan to seek the American Bar Association’s opinion on lower court judicial nominees. All presidents since Dwight Eisenhower, with the exception of President George W. Bush, have used the ABA’s opinions when choosing lower court nominees.
- Last Friday marked the deadline for introducing new Congressional Review Act resolutions to rescind certain Obama-era regulations. The CRA allows for an expedited repeals process and makes it difficult for agencies to reinstate similar rules without Congressional approval.
- AAUW joined with 576 organizations to urge Congress to protect the student loan program and strengthen Pell Grants.
- In the wake of the news of cases brought against news anchor Bill O’Reilly for sexual harassment, nearly 50 advertisers have pulled their advertisements from Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor.
- Graduate student unions at several schools are demanding contract protection against sexual harassment and assault.
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will delay the implementation of its fiduciary rule for 60 days while it reviews its effects on access to retirement investment advice. AAUWsent comments to DOL urging that the rule move forward.
- An article series by the Harvard Business Review titled “The Business of Inequality”examines why inequality in the workplace is an urgent business problem. We agree – just last year, AAUW released Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership, which examines women’s underrepresentation in leadership roles in business, politics, and education.
On Thursday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the personal data of up to 100,000 taxpayers whose information was used to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may have been compromised due to a security breach by hackers.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced that the U.S. added 98,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate decreased to 4.5 percent, the lowest level in nearly 10 years.
The confirmation vote for President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta will likely be delayed until after Congress’ upcoming two-week recess.
A recent study found that women justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are more likely to be interrupted by their male counterparts.