This past Tuesday, President Obama signed two executive actions with goals in strengthening equal pay laws. This signing occurred on Equal Pay Day – a day that the Department of Labor considers dedicated to reflecting on “how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year.”
These two executive orders are aiming to create transparency in the pay rates of federal employees.
The first order prevents federal employers from punishing employees who discuss their pay rates with their co-workers, while the second requires that these same employers submit data reports on what they currently pay their employees, complete with information on said employees’ gender and race.
And to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Republican Committee is against these orders. Their opposition is vague, at best, and offers little insight into the alleged “misleading” language within the orders. Kirsten Kukowski, RNC National Press Secretary, even goes so far to state that, “it will cut flexibility in the work place for working moms and end merit pay that rewards good work”, something that she claims is “very important” to the Republican party.
How exactly these executive orders go about doing this is unclear, with Kukowski furthering her argument by claiming that they “will make it nearly impossible for employers to tie compensation to work quality, productivity and experience, reduce flexibility in the workplace, and make it far easier to file frivolous lawsuits that line the pockets of trial lawyers.”
Further clarity is needed to justify why she believes that these laws will completely blind employers to the quality of their employees’ work. There is no language within these orders that state that employees – regardless of gender – will no longer be compensated or rewarded for high quality work. It is merely bringing to light the issue that many women in the workplace suffer lower wages than their male counterparts – despite the fact that their quality of work may be higher than these male associates.
The desire of these orders to bridge the gap of pay rates between men and women is not something that the Republican party should fear or attempt to discredit – least of all the women within the party itself. Through this fear mongering of equality, they only serve to further alienate a majority of already-wary women voters – furthering everyone’s lack of surprise when those in the Democratic Party find themselves confident come 2016.
Ciara is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.