Another View: Time for honesty on equal pay in the Pa. workplace

Recently, an editorial written by two of our fellow legislators from the Senate was published advocating for S.B. 241 and equal pay for equal work – the idea that women should rightfully be paid the same as men for doing the same job. We would like to applaud Sens. Jake Corman and Tom McGarrigle for supporting this idea, however we believe it is vital to inform them that S.B. 241, which passed the Senate in February, would actually take several steps away from achieving pay equity.

Senate Bill 241 is essentially a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While at quick glance it may sound like good legislation aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women, nothing could be further from the truth. Upon truly examining S.B. 241, it is apparent that this bill would actually overturn advances already made in Pennsylvania to provide equal pay for equal work.

In several municipalities across the state, such as in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, legislation has been passed that strengthens benefits and gives protections to women to ensure they are given the same compensation men are. Senate Bill 241, through a tool known as pre-emption, would do away with those protections by overruling any legislation already in place that deals with equal pay for equal work.

We agree with the senators that action must be taken to provide pay equity in not just bigger cities, but in all four corners of the state. That’s why we invite them to join us in supporting legislation to be introduced by Reps. Maria Donatucci and Donna Bullock that will prohibit the payment of different wages to employees based on their gender for the same or comparable work.

This legislation is based on a bill that passed in Massachusetts with unanimous and bipartisan support in both the state House and Senate. It aims to prohibit discriminatory pay based on gender and place new penalties on employers who practice discriminatory wage practices. It would also allow employees to inquire about wages and disclose information about wages and importantly, prohibit retaliatory actions against workers who file a complaint regarding pay inequities.

This is how we must take the next step in the pay equity fight – by increasing employee protections and strengthening the dialogue and flow of information about pay disparity.

We whole heartedly support the premise behind the editorial from Sens. Corman and McGarrigle, but S.B. 241 is not the answer. It is a misguided, misunderstood bill that pays lip service to pay equity while stripping employees of protections they have already been granted.

Instead, we invite the senators to join us in supporting the Donatucci-Bullock legislation. If they would like to sit down and discuss this matter in Harrisburg, we would gladly join them.

Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161; State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., State Rep. Maria Donatucci. D-Phils.; Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164; Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia/Delaware.