Bill Passed in MN to Close Pay Equity Gap

The BSM Justice Club, founded by BSM junior Parker Breza, sponsored a group of speakers to come to BSM and discuss the gender wage equity gap. They sponsored speakers to come to the school in honor of the passing of the Women’s Economic Securities Act.

The Justice Club hosted the event to raise awareness and create action by students in the BSM community. “The speakers, Patti Tanji, Liz Reinerston, and Ginger Hedstrom, were very well informed and brought a wide array of experiences to our community. We also wrote thank you cards to our legislators for passing the bill and got petition signatures to pass a similar bill on a national level,” Breza said.

On Wednesday May 7, the MN legislature passed the Women’s Economic Securities Act, specifically targeting the wage inequity between men and women, which was signed into effect on May 18. The act passed the Senate with a 43-24 vote and the House of Representatives with a 106-24 vote, drawing bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Women in Minnesota currently earn 80 cents to every dollar a man makes, three cents above the national average. “For too long, in spite of laws we have had on the books for over 50 years, women have not been treated equally in the workplace,” chief author Sen. Sandra Pappas said.

The Women’s Economic Securities Act consists of nine separate bills formed in order to improve working conditions and equality for women in the workplace who currently make up the majority of low wage workers in Minnesota. One of the biggest factors of the bill is the increase in minimum wage to $9.50/hour. The goal of this increase in wages is to help women be able to earn a more substantial wage and support their family.

Women’s maternity leave will be doubled from six weeks to three months, and affordable childcare would be made more available. “Passing it all as a package and trying to attack the gender wage gap from multiple perspectives is a forward-thinking way to attack a seemingly intractable problem,” Gender Justice, a group which promotes public policies to eliminate gender barriers, director told the Star Tribune.

Despite its approval, WESA has found opposition from numerous groups of Republicans. Some state that the bill will create excessive costs and litigation fees for business owners in Minnesota. Others claimed the bill was unnecessary and implies that women are unable to gain their own equality in the workplace. “What are we telling women? Unless the government steps up you’re not smart enough, tough enough or capable enough to be successful on your own?” Senator Carrie Ruud asked.