Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered the following remarks Monday on the Senate floor in recognition of National Equal Pay Day, the date that symbolizes how far into the year American women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Senator Murray has consistently fought to help end the wage gap, in particular through the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide women with additional tools to identify and fight back against pay discrimination.
In her remarks on the Senate floor, Murray cited how women across the country and across professions, including the U.S. women’s national soccer team, are paid less than their male counterparts.
“We are 103 days into 2016. And on Equal Pay Day, that number takes on significant, unfortunate meaning,” Murray said. “Women have to work 103 extra days to match what men earned last year. That is unacceptable. Workers should be paid fairly for the work they do, regardless of their gender. And closing the wage gap would help grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down. I’m glad to be here to recognize Equal Pay Day with my Democratic colleagues, to stand up on behalf of women across the country, and to renew our call to put an end to the wage gap.”
Murray referenced zip code logic next.
“No matter where they live, no matter their background, no matter what career they choose, on average, women earn less than their male colleagues – even women soccer players on the U.S. National Team,” she said. “The women’s national team has won three World Cup titles. They’ve won four Olympic gold medals. But despite all of their success, they are not immune from the pervasive wage gap. In fact, on average, as players, they earn four times less on than their male counterparts. And it’s not just about the money. Think about the message the wage gap sends to young girls who see women valued less than men for doing the same work – and in the case of the women’s soccer team – doing it so much better! So, I’m glad members of the women’s national soccer team are taking a stand to gain equal pay for the work they do.”
Five U.S. Women’s National Team (U.S.W.N.T.) players – including Seattle Reign’s Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo – recently filed a federal complaint with the EEOC against the U.S. Soccer Federation for wage discrimination.
In 2015, the women’s team produced nearly $20 million in revenue and won the World Cup, breaking television rating records with 25.4 million viewers in the final match alone, as compared to the men’s record of 18.2 million in 2014.
Murray said the work has to start in the Senate.
“And in the Senate, we’re going to keep championing the Paycheck Fairness Act to make equal pay a reality for women across the country. Until then, I – along with my colleagues – am going to keep fighting on behalf of all women and families until they get the equal pay they’ve earned,” she said.
“On average, women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes,” she said. “And the pay gap is even wider for women of color. That’s not just unfair to women. It hurts families, and it hurts our economy. Today, 60 percent of working families rely on wages from two earners. And more than ever, women are likely to be the primary breadwinner for their families. Women’s success in today’s economy is critical to families’ economic security and to our nation’s economy as a whole.”
The strong message for equal pay for equal work goes far beyond the buck, too.
“…it’s not just about the money. Think about the message the wage gap sends to young girls who see women valued less than men for doing the same work – and in the case of the women’s soccer team – doing it so much better,” she quipped. “So, I’m glad members of the women’s national soccer team are taking a stand to gain equal pay for the work they do. And in the Senate, we’re going to keep championing the Paycheck Fairness Act to make equal pay a reality for women across the country.”