Fix wage inequality now

Alan Bates

Sen. Alan Bates

Across the country and across our state, women make less than their male counterparts for the exact same work. Women earn 22 percent less than men, or 78 cents for each dollar, and the problem is even worse for minority women.

These aren’t just statistics. These numbers contribute to real problems for everyday Oregon families. Wage inequality leads to poverty and economic instability; it negatively impacts families and the strength of our middle class. Put bluntly, it is time we stopped talking about the problem of wage inequality, and started fixing it.

The Oregon Senate finally took a step in that direction with passage of SB 744 this month, which directs the Council on Civil Rights to conduct a study to determine which factors are contributing to wage inequality in Oregon. The council will report back to the legislature in 2014, giving lawmakers the tools and information necessary to address wage inequality in a serious way. I sincerely look forward to their recommendations so we can address this problem, expand the middle class and help more Oregonians provide opportunities for their children.

I’ll conclude with a poignant statement from the Senate floor, made by my colleague Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene): “This issue hasn’t had nearly enough focus given the profound impact that wage inequity has on women, minorities, children, and their families. It’s past time we got to work fixing this problem.”

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