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On Equal Pay Day Senator Shaheen call for passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor this evening to commemorate Equal Pay Day and call for passage for the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Shaheen has repeatedly called for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act of which she is an original cosponsor. Currently, women in New Hampshire make just 78 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and nationwide women and their families lose an estimated $434,000 over the course of their careers due to pay discrimination. 

Senator Shaheen’s remarks as prepared for delivery are included below:

Madam President, more than 50 years ago, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, making equal pay for equal work the law of the land. 

Yet wage discrimination persists. 

Even today, women continue to be paid just over three-quarters of what their male counterparts receive for performing the exact same work. 

More women than ever before are graduating from college, but over the course of their careers they will each make an average of $1.2 million less than a man with the same level of education. 

Unfortunately, that’s not unique. 

Across a wide array of industries and within all manner of occupations, well-qualified women continue to earn an average of 77 cents for each dollar their male counterparts earn, regardless of their performance or educational background. 

Pay discrimination hurts women, its hurts families and it hurts our economy. 

Back in the early 80’s, I served on New Hampshire’s Commission on the Status of Women. And during that period I chaired a taskforce on women’s employment in New Hampshire and we wrote a report about what we found. Sadly, we found a lot of discrimination against women in employment. At that time women were only making 59 cents for every dollar that a man earned.

But the conclusion of our report was that this was not just an issue for women, but that it was an issue for their spouses, for their families and for the economy of New Hampshire. The same is true today.

In 2011, women were the sole or primary breadwinner in more than 40 percent of households with children. 

Equal pay for these women is not solely about a fair paycheck. 

It’s about paying for a visit to the pediatrician or a prescription that their children need. It’s about paying the heating bills during a long winter, or affording internet access so their kids can do their homework. 

There’s a lot the average woman could do with the extra $10,000 she would earn each year were it not for pay discrimination.

As Governor, I signed a law to prohibit gender-based pay discrimination in New Hampshire and require equal pay for equal work. 

In the year before that law was signed, women in New Hampshire made 69 percent of their male colleagues’ wages; today they make 78 percent. So in New Hampshire women make about a penny more than the national average. At this rate, my granddaughters, some of whom are still in grade school, could enter and leave the workforce before we achieve equal pay for equal work. 

Today, on Equal Pay Day, I call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, so that all of our daughters and granddaughters can get a fair paycheck. 

This common-sense legislation would update the Equal Pay Act to require that pay differences be based on legitimate business reasons.  It would also protect women whose employers try to shirk their responsibilities by prohibiting employees from discussing their salaries. 

Pay discrimination is not fair, it’s not right and it needs to end.

I urge my colleagues to support the Paycheck Fairness Act and yield the floor.