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GOP: sticking it to women too, attempting to repeal equal pay requirements

by Joe Bodell on February 9, 2011

House DFL legislators gathered at the State Capitol today yesterday to stand in opposition to Republican attempts to repeal pay equity laws for women. Twenty-two Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate have signed onto HF 7, a bill that would repeal the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act (LGPEA). House DFLers called the legislation misguided and damaging given our current economic climate.

“Our state faces a budget deficit, a jobs deficit, and now Republicans are trying to add an equality deficit,” said State Rep. Linda Slocum (DFL – Bloomington). “This proposal distracts us from the real challenges facing Minnesotans while making it harder for working women to earn a wage they deserve. It makes no sense.”

The Equal Pay for Women law was passed in 1984 to eliminate gender based wage disparities in public employment in Minnesota local governments. Since its application, it has brought transparency to public wages and helped narrow wage gaps. Nevertheless, research indicates an equity problem remains. According to a June report by the Woman’s Foundation of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota, white women earn 76 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Disparities are even worse for African American and Hispanic women.

Once again, the Republican Party of Minnesota expresses its commitment to growing and broadening the economy by telling women to sit down, shut up, and accept that they might just have to deal with making less than men for doing the same jobs.

While we’re on the topic, what exactly is the gender makeup of the non-”traditionally female” areas of government business (HHS, Education, etc)? Sources at the Capitol indicate that Jean Wagenius, for example, was recommended for the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, but all the House members on the panel are male.

Of course there are perfectly logical explanations for these things — Rep. Wagenius was no doubt busy with other responsibilities and Speaker Zellers simply couldn’t make room among his five appointments for her — but it’s difficult to imagine a world in which it’s difficult to ensure as many viewpoints as possible — including those of the fairer sex — are brought to bear on the issues we face together through government.

Of course, in that world, 22 state legislators would cosponsor legislation to reduce women’s pay on the basis of their chromosomes, too. Apparently that world is our world.

Fun trivia question: how many cosponsors of HF7 are female?

Answer: just one. One has to wonder how second-term Rep. Peggy Scott would feel about being paid 24% less than her male colleagues in St. Paul.

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