Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Equal Pay Day Theatrics: Tragedy or Comedy?

First of all, if you have never heard of National Equal Pay Day, not to worry.  It only came into existence the day before it was first celebrated with a proclamation by his Majesty, Barack Obama.  Of course, with such short notice, there wasn't enough time to invite everyone to the festivities.  That's probably why no Republicans returned their RSVP's in time.   Also, after reading the proclamation, it appears that it won't be an annual event anyway.  It only existed that one day, this one year, an election year.  I'm quite sure that all women can appreciate this President's valiant one-day effort  to eradicate pay inequality among women.

Sadly, the day was marred by many factual inconsistencies.

It all started with the President claiming that women only made 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  However, this number is disputed by Obama's own Bureau of Labor Statistics report that states that the current number is 81 cents to the dollar; well up from Obama's consistently, falsely claimed, politically-motivated number.  

Then, there was also embarrassment when it was pointed out that women, as part of the White House staff, are only paid 88% of what men are. The best that Presidential Press Secretary  Jay Carney could do to explain this was to say that the White House was doing better than the nation as a whole.  Well one would think so, since I'm guessing that the female staff members aren't merely waitresses who are able to supplement there legally paid less than the minimum wages with tips.

Of course, no Obama event would be complete without him using his faithful pen and issuing an order or two.  On that day, he used it to sign an executive order and to issue a memorandum.

The executive order told federal contractors that they cannot retaliate against anyone who wants to discuss their pay.  But, the order also states that contractors aren't required to discuss it.  So, if an employee wants to talk about salary, his boss can just say "shoo, out of here" because the President's order says I don't need to talk to you about it.   It also states that the employer is not compelled to make public everyone's pay. That's a relief.  Can you imagine a corporation, of say 50,000 employees, publishing everyone's salary.  Chaos and morale problems would be immediate and intense.  Supervisors, managers, and human resource personnel would spend their entire workday justifying wage disparity, not just locally, but nationwide.

Besides being a waste of ink, this executive order shows how out of touch the President is with business operations in the U.S.  We are, primarily, a country where one's pay is determined by merit.  Raises are typically handed out annually.  At that time, it is common for salary (and job performance) to be reviewed.  Additionally, most businesses have an "open door policy" where employees can discuss any grievance; without retaliation.  Many businesses have a Human Resources department or personnel manager who can intervene if there seems to be an unresolvable issue between a supervisor and an employee.  If all else fails, an aggrieved employee can always file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and that federal agency can guarantee that no retaliation will take place by doing so.  So, this begs the question: Do we have such a massive "retaliation" problem in this country that Obama needed to correct it by executive order?   Just more theatrics from this very tragedian President.

Then, there was the President's memorandum "instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations which will require federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor, summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race."  Again, more theatrics.  The EEOC already, by law, collects such data from every business with 100 or more employees, or any federal contractor with more than two employees, in the form of 4 different reports.

Lastly, the day was to be capped with the Democrat-controlled, Senate's passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act which was supposed to mirror much of the President's executive order and apply those mandates to all businesses. But, that failed; for the third time.  It failed because too much of the law was a gift to trial lawyers; giving them broad sanctions to literally sue some businesses out of existence. It never had a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House and that was the real purpose of the re-submission of it in the Senate.  Obama had hoped for passage in the Senate so he could point to the House's rejection of the Paycheck Fairness Act as further proof that the GOP are conducting a war on women.

The real tragedy of that day was the President's fake attempts to convince women that he was doing something for them.  From fake data to a useless executive order and memorandum and a previously failed piece of legislation, nothing attempted or accomplished that day furthered any woman's pay situation in America.  It was all a bunch of fluff to garner women's votes in the fall and distract from the horrors of ObamaCare.  Further, it was a tragedy that the real problems facing women aren't being addressed. Things like jobs, the economy, and truly affordable healthcare for their families.

The rich comedic payoff was watching Jay Carney dance around the fact of the White House's failure to pay women equally.  Just as laughable was the fact that the Democrat-controlled Senate failed to pass any legislation that might have helped them in the fall elections.  This was their own fault by presenting legislation that overreached and would actually hurt the economy and ultimately women's causes. If employers start thinking of women as constant adversaries who will easily take them to court, their chances of even being hired, let alone promoted, could be greatly compromised.


Presidential Proclamation -- National Equal Pay Day, 2014: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/07/presidential-proclamation-national-equal-pay-day-2014

President Obama’s persistent ’77-cent’ claim on the wage gap gets a new Pinocchio rating: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/04/09/president-obamas-persistent-77-cent-claim-on-the-wage-gap-gets-a-new-pinocchio-rating/

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Women's Earnings: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf

As Obama Spotlights Gender Gap in Wages, His Own Payroll Draws Scrutiny: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/us/politics/as-obama-spotlights-gender-gap-in-wages-his-own-payroll-draws-scrutiny.html

FACT SHEET: Expanding Opportunity for All: Ensuring Equal Pay for Women and Promoting the Women’s Economic Agenda: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/08/fact-sheet-expanding-opportunity-all-ensuring-equal-pay-women-and-promot

EEO Reports / Surveys: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/08/fact-sheet-expanding-opportunity-all-ensuring-equal-pay-women-and-promot

Senate falls six votes short of passing Paycheck Fairness Act: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/09/senate-falls-six-votes-short-of-passing-paycheck-fairness-act/

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