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MI Women Work Hard For Less Money

PHOTO: Legislation to help close the pay gap between men and women is working its way through the Michigan legislature, but activists say families, teachers, and school counselors can play a role as well. Photo credit: cohodra via morguefile.com.
PHOTO: Legislation to help close the pay gap between men and women is working its way through the Michigan legislature, but activists say families, teachers, and school counselors can play a role as well. Photo credit: cohodra via morguefile.com.
April 8, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - Despite laws and lawsuits, rallies and protests, Michigan women still earn just 74 cents for every dollar their male counterparts bring in, and today symbolically marks the 15-months-plus that women have had to work in 2013 and 2014 just to catch up to what men earned in 2013.

According to Mary Pollock, the legislative vice president of the National Organization for Women Michigan, the pay gap narrowed for several years following the passage of the Federal Equal Pay Act in 1963, but has since stalled.

"It is a value system that is at work in the United States, where the work that women do is not valued as highly as other work that is done predominately by men," Pollock declared.

Four bills are currently pending in the Michigan legislature which would address the state's pay equity gap, which Pollock characterized as among the worst in the nation. Those measures would strengthen the Michigan Civil Rights Act, increase penalties for sex-based wage discrimination, set up a pay equity study commission, and give workers more information going into salary negotiations.

Studies show that when women leave college, they lag behind men in pay on their very first jobs. Pollock said that, in addition to more transparency about pay ranges and workplace mentors who can help women with negotiation strategies, there is much work to be done on the front end.

"Counselors in high schools need to set the same standards for girls and boys in terms of their career aspirations and encourage both girls and boys to be the best they can be in whatever occupation," she said.

In recognition of Equal Pay Day, several organizations including Michigan NOW will rally at the state capitol on April 29, when the legislature is back in session. More information is on the Michigan NOW website.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI