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President Obama Signs An Order To Deal With Gender Pay Gaps

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US_NEWS_OBAMA-EQUALPAYBy Andrew Scot Bolsinger

President Barack Obama signed directives Tuesday that would make it easier for workers of federal contractors to get information about workplace compensation, saying it was an important step to the ongoing struggle to ensure women receive equal pay.

“This is about Republicans seemingly opposing any efforts to even the playing field for working families,” Obama said at a White House signing ceremony, surrounded by women advocates and accompanied by Lilly Ledbetter, a woman whose namesake legislation on pay equity was the first bill Obama signed into law in 2009, according to a report by The Grio.

“Pay secrecy fosters discrimination, and we should not tolerate it, not in federal contracting or anywhere else,” Obama said.

Obama’s executive order coincided with a Democratic-led push in the Senate debate on broader legislation that would make it easier for workers to sue companies for paying women less because of their gender. With only 58 yes votes the bill failed to pass a Republican filibuster to stall the legislation.

The Senate legislation would forbid companies from punishing workers who share salary information and would allow punitive and compensatory damages in lawsuits. It also would make it harder for companies to prove that disparities in pay are not gender based and would make it easier to file class action lawsuits. The Associated Press reported.

Republican accused Obama and the Democrats of doing nothing more than election-year grandstanding to appeal to women voters. Some Republican women were considering proposing a narrower bill as an alternative.

Obama cited Census Bureau figures show that the annual earnings of women were 77 percent of what men earned in 2012, a difference that has barely budged over the past decade, the AP reported.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gap is 86 percent when measured by hourly wages. The larger gap is in part because women tend to work fewer hours than men and because of  tips and bonuses. An analysis of 2012 data by the Pew Research Center placed the discrepancy at 84 cents for women for every $1 made by men, the AP reported.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com