State House Endorses Equal Pay Act for 3rd Year

The state House has voted in favor of pay equality for women workers – for the third year in a row. Dan Frizzell has more.

Sponsor Tana Senn hopes the third go-round will do the trick for the bill she calls the Equal Pay Opportunity Act.  Washington state has actually had an equal pay law on the books since the 1940s, but it’s an easy one for employers to skirt.  It’s common for businesses to prohibit workers from discussing their pay with one another, and if Ms. A doesn’t know how much Mr. B earns for doing the same job, that’s a problem. Senn, a Democrat from Mercer Island, wrote the bill to do away with the gag order that keeps workers in the dark, and it bans retaliation against women who advocate for equal pay at their workplace.  Senn said the imbalance in pay can snowball throughout a woman’s life.

“What we’re seeing is young women coming out of college being paid less than men.  We see it across industries, we see it on low-wage workers and high-wage workers as well.  As women age, their cumulative loss in wages dramatically impacts their retirement and their poverty levels as they become seniors.  And that is a huge issue.” 

The equal pay act 3.0 heads for the Senate now, where the Republican leadership hasn’t allowed the previous two versions to be voted on by the whole chamber. Senn knows that’s not a good track record, but says it’s worth fighting for . . . again. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.