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gender wage gap

Data from the US Bureaus of Labor Statistics and the US Census can be analyzed according to gender.  On an average basis, this analysis shows that men earn more than women.  This disparity is often called the gender wage gap.  The gender wage gap is also found in more refined analysis of data that include age as well as educational levels. 

What is even more concerning is that the wage gap is present even when comparing “comparable work.”  The concept of comparable work is that people should be paid an equal amount for work of equal value.  Different jobs can be compared through an analysis of educational and skill requirements, task activities and level of responsibility.  And while the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act of 1945 (MEPA, the first in the nation) was intended to address the issue of pay equity for similar but not identical jobs, it failed to do so because the statute did not define  “comparable”. 

The first case to allege pay discrimination based on MEPA was in 1989 by Cafeteria workers at Everett schools.  Women cafeteria workers earned an hourly wage from $6.44 to $6.85 an hour while male custodians earned from $10.76 to $12.73 per hour.  While the lower court ruled that the jobs were comparable and that discrimination occurred, the high court barred the lower court’s ruling.  The reason the ruling was overturned was that “comparable” was not defined in the 1945 statue. 

65 years after the legislation and 18 years after the case was over turned, comparable has still not been defined and therefore MEPA has not been used to establish equal pay for equal work.

Senator Patricia Jehlen has introduced Senate Bill 689 to address this problem.  The bill states:
SECTION 1. Chapter 149 of the General Laws, as most recently amended, is hereby further amended by inserting after the first sentence of section 105A the following section:—

In any action brought under this section, the comparability of two positions shall be solely based on whether the two positions entail comparable skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions between employees of the opposite sex.

Please join with the YWCA Greater Newburyport in calling your State Senator and relaying the following message:

Hi, my name is _____________ and I live in _______ [town] ________________. I am joining with the YWCA Greater Newburyport and YWCAs throughout Massachusetts to urge you to support the pending pay equity legislation S. 689 “An Act Further Defining Comparable Work” by urging Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee to bring the bill to a vote the so it can be reported favorably out of committee.

Steven Baddour 617-722-1604 (Newburyport, Amesbury, Merrimac and Salisbury).

Senator Bruce Tarr 617-722-1600 (Georgetown, Groveland, Newbury and Rowley).

Current Status of HD1880/SD689 | Status: (updated June 3, 2010)
1/20/2009 S Referred to the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
1/20/2009 H House concurred
3/4/2010 S Accompanied by H1880
3/4/2010 S Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the Senate Committee On Ways and Means

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