Today is Equal Pay Day: the symbolic day women work into the new year to earn the same amount that men earned for their work in the previous year.
Why the symbolic day? Because the pay gap between men and women is real – especially in Montana.
Montana women earn only 67 cents for every dollar Montana men earn. Our state ranks 39th for pay equity across the country. While this is not always an issue of overt discrimination, it is something we can change.
This session, Democratic Women Legislators took steps toward equal pay for equal work by proposing the
Montana Paycheck Transparency Act. Introduced by Senator Diane Sands of Missoula, the Act would have allowed employees and employers to openly discuss and negotiate fair wages without fear of retaliation.
Originally from Governor Bullock’s Pay Equity Task Force, paycheck transparency would have helped to close the pay gap by giving employees the tools to discuss and negotiate a fair wage, changing the culture of water cooler discussions in communities across our state.
Unfortunately, Senate Republicans killed this bill in committee – then voted against bringing it to the Senate floor for debate.
The fight for Equal Pay is not over, and neither is the legislative session. There are still important issues at hand: your Democratic Women Legislators will continue to stand up for you today – and every day – but we need your help. Here are a few things you can do.
1) Stay engaged. The legislative session may be wrapping up, but there are still big decisions to come. Right now, the budget still has big funding gaps for key services for seniors, Montanans with disabilities, and students. Keep up on the debate here, and make sure your legislators know where you stand.
2) Keep talking. Talk to your friends about Equal Pay, and get the resources you need to learn about the Montana Equal Pay Task Force here.
3) Be empowered. Join a local board, community advisory council, or consider running for office yourself. We need more active, passionate women to stand up and speak out across the state.
We’re here for you,
Montana Democratic Women Legislators