Labor and Public Employees Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5591

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PAY EQUITY IN THE WORKFORCE.

Vote Date:

3/2/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/16/2017

File No.:

66

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Labor and Public Employees Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

There is no pay equity in the workforce for employees responsible for the same duties.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Kevin Lembo, CT State Comptroller

Comptroller Lembo emphasized his support of this issue. Should the pace of change for annual earnings ratio remain the same as it has been since 1960, men and women would not reach pay equality until 2059. Women of color and Hispanic women are especially affected by pay inequity

Scott Jackson, Commissioner, Department of Labor

Commissioner Jackson's written testimony stated that the gender wage gap in the state still exists. According to a report done by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, this gap has narrowed over the last several decades for women who work full-time year-round, but they still earn considerably less than their male counterparts. Pay inequities within the same occupation add to this gender wage gap in all occupations except secondary school teachers.

Representative Joe Aresimowicz, Speaker of the House

Rep. Aresimowicz stated that in his experiences talking with constituents and people across the state, he found job growth and sustainability were their main concerns. This is not exclusively a women's issue, it is a family issue with families increasingly relying on two incomes. Women in Connecticut earn 83 cents for every dollar paid to men, which amounts to an annual wage gap of $10,679. More households are headed by women. He encourages passage of this bill.

Representative James M. Albis, Deputy Majority Leader

Rep. Albis stated that over the decades we have legally recognized equality when it came to outlawing segregation and discrimination and extended to voting rights. The rational next step is pay equality for women. The legislation is very simple in nature: equal pay for equal work for comparable duties.

Darryl Brackeen, Jr, Board of Alders, City of New Haven

Many constituents in my ward are constantly concerned about the wellbeing of themselves and their families. Without legislation, wage gaps have proven to be a hindrance to achieving or maintaining financial stability. If the annual wage gap were eliminated, each working woman would have about 81 more weeks of food for her family, and 10 more months of rent or five more months of mortgage and utility payments. Behind each paycheck is a real worker.

Representative Kim Rose

Rep. Rose's testimony stated in the year 2017, it is unconscionable that a proposal like his is even being discussed. This is a commonsense measure and the time is now for women employees in Connecticut to be treated fairly and equally. They deserve the same respect and recognition as their male counterparts.

Representative Russell A. Morin

The loss of money due to the inequity of wage rates set by gender means families have less money to spend on goods and services which negatively affect our economy. This bill allows women and men to become equals in the work force and the financial economy.

Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey

Besides the obvious issue of justice, the effect of wage inequity compounds over time. Women's life expectancy exceeds their male co-workers and which impacts not only their earning years but also their retirement income. Women over 75 are almost twice as likely as men to be living under the poverty line.

Representative Michael Winkler

The State of Connecticut has been ensuring pay equity for state employees through an Objective Job Evaluation statute since the late 1970's. Pay comparability can be established and equity is doable in the public and private sectors as has been done in state service. In thirty-five years, the wage gap between men and women has been closed by less than half. Clearly, greater effort is needed.

Representative Emmett D. Riley

Rep. Riley's testimony supports this bill since it would reduce discriminatory practices. The wage gap between men and women makes the economy suffer. In Connecticut, a woman with a high school diploma has an average salary of $35,000 which is the same average for men in Connecticut with less than a high school diploma. Less money to save for their families' future and basic goods/ services is also detrimental to the economy.

Steven Hernandez, Executive Director, Commission on Women, Children and Seniors

Pay inequity takes an enormous toll on lower-wage women, especially women of color. The wage gap robs the higher wage earners as well since female surgeons, financial managers and judges endure an even greater wage gap than women in less lucrative fields. This runs contrary to the prevailing myth that the pay gap is largely a result of job self-stratification where female dominated professions (such as teaching and social work) cannot expect to make the same as men. This bill is an economic drive and a way to reduce poverty.

Cheryl Sharp, Deputy Director, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

The bill aims to correct years of pay inequity for women in our state. CHRO is the government agency that receives pay equity complaints. These cases are often hard to prove given that salary transparency most often does not exist in the private sector. It is easy to get away with paying similarly situated females less than their male colleagues.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Peggy Britt, Self

Ms. Britt testified that although she and her husband had similar jobs 20 years ago and made similar salaries, his salary has continued to rise while hers stayed stagnant even though she now has more responsibility than he. He earns twice as much as she does now. Women have continued to lose ground and this bill is needed to allow women and their families the path they need for financial security.

Samantha Conway, Intern, CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence

This agency works to support victims of all forms of domestic violence. Because of financial issues, working class victims and the poor have a harder time securing safety from their abusers who exploit their resources. Left with inadequate finances if they leave their abusers, victims lack the autonomy and confidence they need for economic stability. Passage of this bill would make Connecticut a leader of this nation-wide initiative.

Susan Eastwood, Board Member, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut

She referenced her previous testimony on HB 5210, (The McKinsey Report), regarding how paid family leave and other factors can contribute to gender pay equity in many ways.

Carole Walker, Self

Since women are the ones most likely to take leave from their jobs and earn less in their lifetimes, it is more difficult for them to have enough money to retire. The income gap between men and women should be eliminated.

Jackie Alessio, LMSW

Her testimony focused on inequities beyond that of binary of male/female.
She told of additional problems facing the LGBTQ community. She highlighted results of a task force co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project, The National Center for Transgender Equality, the Center for American Progress and the Human Rights Campaign in partnership with Freedom to Work, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates and SEIU stating the following: Transgender workers report unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole. More than four in ten transgender people are currently under-employed. Transgender workers are nearly four times more than likely than the population as a whole to have a household income of under $10,000. She feels this bill
's language would be inconclusive since it leaves space that continues to oppress the LGBTQ population.

Deanna Spartachino

There is no legitimate reason to offer different compensation for the same work based on ANY differences. In today's economic and political climate, these rights should not be threatened.

Stacey Zimmerman, SEIU CT State Council

Connecticut has extreme income inequality. The ability for everyone to work for a fair wage and have the ability to take time off when needed for family leave will start to bring the Connecticut workforce on a par with neighboring states and the rest of the world.

Brittney L. Yancy, University of Connecticut, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Her written testimony requested the committee to go deeper and take a more critical view of the wage gap by considering how race and other actors impact employees. Various movements and policies over the last 40 years have made great strides, but the experiences of women of color have been largely marginal.

William J. Cronin, Owner CEO, Cronin and Co, ( advertising agency)

There are many organizations where women have advanced in status and responsibility, but their compensation has lagged compared to their male counterparts. Closing this pay gap between women and men is far overdue.

Lindsay Farrell, State Director, CT Working Families Organization

Her testimony cited the comparisons of pay rates for women and men as well as the even wider discrepancies for African American and Latina women. This money could be supporting their families and spent in the local economy. Paying two people different rates for the same work is unjustifiable.

Michael L. Witherspoon, Esq., Law Office of Michael L. Witherspoon

If an attorney happens to be a woman who represents her clients to the bet of her ability just as her male counterparts, she should always be paid the same amount of money. Discrimination against women in the workplace or in society must not be allowed, tolerated or encourage in any fashion.

The following individuals submitted testimony in SUPPORT of the Bill:

Eileen Spagnoli

Shanti Whitesides

Rita Spring

Jennifer Cassidy

Carol Haxo

Desmond Green

Diane Hoffman

Peggy Britt

Michael G. Papa

Gail Janensch

Christopher Paulin

 

M. Virginia Chapman

Lucy Nolan, Executive Director, End Hunger Connecticut

Deborah Johnson & Joseph Paolillo

Ed Leavy, President, State Vocational Federation of Teachers

Madeline Granato, Policy Manager, Connecticut Womens Educational and Legal Fund

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

National Federation of Independent Business/Connecticut (NFIB)

The bill has imprecise language and undefined terms in its current form and this would encourage private lawsuits. There currently exist federal and state laws to enforce the legal requirements of pay equity. Small business owners are concerned that this would be a disconcerting shift away from the current “equal pay” merit/seniority/incentive based system and could expose them to litigation challenging whether or not they applied the correct worth to different jobs. This bill threatens to add costs and uncertainties for many small businesses by micro-managing their operations and increasing exposure to potentially frivolous lawsuits.

Wendy Traub, Small Business Owner (Hemlock Directional Boring Inc.)

Written testimony explained that passage would bring about sweeping legislation that doesn't take into consideration the reasons a private employer may decide to offer different pay to different employees in similar jobs. Years of experience, special certifications, holding a CDL license, knowledge of hydraulics, equipment operating experience are some of the individual qualifications that determine starting pay. Employers should have the opportunity to offer their employees not only what is fair to them, but is reasonable to the company as well. State control undermines their ability to run their businesses.

Michele LaCrosse, Self

Her written testimony referred to this bill as being one of those 'do-gooder' items with hidden back-door agendas. There are already enough laws to allow those who feel unfairly paid to step up and be heard. Health care that helps women also allows an abortion is his example of 'back-door' agendas.

Suzanne Bates, Policy Director, Yankee Institute

Since there is pre-existing federal and state law regarding pay equity, this bill is unnecessary, repetitive and wasteful of lawmakers' time and resources. In reality, statistics often quoted regarding the discrepancy was discredited years ago. The difference in average earning of all full-time working men and women does not account for important differences in position, education, occupation, hours or tenure. It is closer to 5 cents rather than the often quoted 23 cents and it is unclear if this wage gap is the result of discrimination.

Eric W. Gjede, Counsel, CT Business and Industry Association (CBIA)

The bill appears to require employers to provide equal pay to employees who perform “comparable” duties regardless of skill or productivity. The changes seem innocuous but this bill would have a negative impact on both employers and employees. CBIA suggest these two charges: First, moving from “equal work” to “comparable duties” which blunts the internal and external market forces that naturally shape the value of a given job and the compensation it demands. Second, requiring employers to pay employees equal pay for comparable work, in essence, undermines the merit pay system. It dilutes, if not prevents, an employer form paying more to employees that are exceptionally skilled or who demonstrate more effort than others.

Robert Jones, Self

Mr. Johnson's written testimony stated that deceptive data was used to further the false narrative that compares overall male wages to overall female wages. Many factors are involved and almost all have nothing to do with prejudice or purposely paying less for the same job. The fact that women make different choices in careers, child rearing and time off are issues that must be adjusted. If fighting for equality for all, lives of unborn children and their rights to live would be the major issue. False statistics are being used to gain support for the women's movement which is doing a great disservice to all women, especially the young women whose minds are being polluted with falsehood.

Reported by: Marie Knudsen

March 21, 2017