Dems again target wage gap in upcoming bill

By: - August 6, 2021 12:40 am

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In an attempt to make workplace equity an incentive rather than a punishment, two Democratic legislators are bringing a wage gap bill back to the Ohio Statehouse.

The legislation introduced on Thursday would create an application program for businesses to receive the designation of “Fair Paycheck Workplace.”

By submitting payroll records and average earnings and genders of their employees to the Ohio Department of Commerce, businesses can receive the designation, which sponsors for the bill say would attract better employees, and help those still suffering from a wage gap, namely women and people of color.

“Through the Fair Paycheck Workplace designation, businesses can attract and retain great employees, Ohioans can know they’re being paid fairly and the financial security of women and their families will be uplifted,” said state Rep. Monique Smith, D-Fairview Park.

Sarah Pariser, director of grants and programs and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, supports the measure, as she said at the press conference introducing the bill on Thursday.

Pariser said before the pandemic, women were more than half of the labor work force.

“However, that has changed drastically last year,” Pariser said, adding that women were expected to stay home with children, on top of accounting for significant job losses.

The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network said in the state, women typically earn 75 cents to every dollar men make doing the same work, an annual difference of more than $12,000.

Black women and Latina women see deeper disparities, earning 64 cents and 61 cents respectively for every dollar a white men, according to the policy network.

Cosponsor state Rep. Kent Smith, D-Euclid, cited stats from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which found that if current trends continue in Ohio, women could not see pay equal to men in the same position and with the same amount of experience until 2067.

“Gender wage gap is a persistent feature of the U.S. labor market, and the gender wage gap is a moral failure of American civil society,” said  Smith. “There’s absolutely no reason it should exist.”

Criteria for the workplace designation would be verified initially six months after approval, and yearly from then on.

The sponsors said they have sent out a request for co-sponsors on the bill, and recognize that they’ll need help from Republican legislators to get the bill through the supermajority in the legislature.

“As I understand it, women live in all the Republican districts,” Smith said.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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