Get serious about Hoosier wage gap


South Bend Tribune

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, has been proposing an equal pay bill for 20 years, so it’s not surprising the Hammond Democrat is trying again this session.

This time there is bipartisan support for the measure. Two Republicans, Sen. Vaneta Becker, who represents portions of Vanderburgh and Warrick counties in southern Indiana, and Rep. Julie Olthoff, of Crown Point, have signed on as co-sponsors.

Both the House and Senate measures would charge employers with discrimination for failing to equitably pay female and minority workers. The bills also would give the Indiana Civil Rights Commission the power to investigate and resolve wage complaints.

A study by the Indiana Institute for Working Families showed the wage gap widened in 2016. That means, on average, full-time working women earn 74 cents for every dollar full-time working men earn. That’s the sixth worst pay gap in the nation.

During the course of a 40-year working career, a working woman will be shortchanged, on average, more than $500,000 in earnings, according to the Center for American Progress.

That gap over the course of a working lifetime significantly undercuts a woman’s ability to provide for her family, let alone trying to save enough money for retirement.

“Here we are in 2018, still talking about fairness — why do we not treat the women of Indiana fairly?” Lawson said during a news conference last week at the Statehouse.

Given the history, it’s unlikely an equal pay bill will make it out of the General Assembly, especially during this short session. But having one of the country’s largest wage gaps should be unacceptable to every Hoosier, including those who serve in the legislature.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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