Last week marked the 50th anniversary of The Equal Pay Act, which passed when John F. Kennedy was President. Since then, the wage gap has narrowed but more work still needs to be done. And incumbent State Senator, Steve Oroho, is not helping.
Right now, across the nation, women make only 77 cents for every dollar men earn. In New Jersey, women earn 85% of what men make for the same work. Over the course of a lifetime, this equates from anywhere to $400,000 to $2 Million dollars in lost earnings.
Last year, the NJ State Legislature passed SR50, a resolution urging congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Act would have amended the Equal Pay Act to ensure that wage differences are the result of things like education, training, or experience, and not gender. The resolution to pay women the same amount of money for the same amount of work passed overwhelmingly. Well, except for 14 GOP Senators—Steve Oroho among them—who refused to support the measure.
To be fair to Senator Oroho, this is not to say that he doesn’t agree that women should be paid the same amount for the same amount of work. He might. It’s just that he isn’t willing to go on record supporting it. This, together with his vote against raising the minimum wage (S3), paints a very grim picture as to where Senator Oroho stands when it comes to the needs of middle class families. He does not seem to recognize that now, more than at any other time in history, women are increasingly the breadwinners in their families and that, more often than not, it takes two paychecks just for families to stay afloat. Women, and the families they support, simply cannot afford to lose, on average, $11,000 a year in paycheck discrimination.
To put this all in perspective, The National Committee on Pay Equity has established “Equal Pay Day.” It’s a symbolic date that recognizes how far into 2013 women must work in order to match what men earned in 2012. This year, it took until April 8th. This is a ‘holiday’ we should never have to recognize again—not because we stopped demanding women be justly compensated, but because not doing so is no longer an option.
Dr. Richard D. Tomko
Candidate for State Senate