Legislation that supporters say will make California the nation’s leader on assuring men and women are paid the same for similar jobs has landed on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has promised to sign it into law.

The final vote in the California Legislature on Senate Bill 358 was unanimous in the state Senate on Monday, a sign at how both labor and business groups have joined ranks on the proposal.

“This is a momentous day for California, and it’s long overdue,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, the author of SB 358.

The bill was introduced earlier this year as part of a package of proposals aimed at helping women in the workforce. Its main provision says that women must be paid the same as their male colleagues “for substantially similar work,” unless the employer qualifies for one of a set or narrow exemptions.

SB 358 also imposes a ban on any retaliation against women who discuss their pay, or ask about the salaries of colleagues, while on the job. And it allows employees to challenge wage gaps that exist at different worksites — for example, said Jackson’s staff, when a grocery chain’s clerks are paid differently at different stores for the same duties.

Key to the bill’s passage were changes that sought to protect what employers might see as a “business necessity” for disparities in the pay of some male and female employees. That change earned SB 358 the support of the California Chamber of Commerce, virtually eliminating any chance it would be blocked in its trip through the Legislature.

While Governor Brown almost never comments on whether he’ll sign or veto a bill prior to it arriving on his desk, he broke that unwritten rule with the pay equity bill — in the form of a tweet from his top adviser, Nancy McFadden, last week.

McFadden’s tweet came during national celebrations of Women’s Equality Day, and pretty much settled the issue in Sacramento.

Supporters of SB 538 say that the median salary for a woman in California was 84 cents to a dollar for a man in 2013, a gap that widens when looking solely at women of color.

Brown has until mid-September to sign the bill, which will take effect on January 1.

Equal Pay Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk for Promised Signature 31 August,2015John Myers

  • Paying the same for “similar” jobs resurrects the old comparable worth concept, which led to nowhere.

    No doubt most pay-equity advocates think employers are greedy profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d move their business to a cheap-labor country to save money. Or replace old workers with young ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Here are telling examples showing that some of America’s most sophisticated women choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/26/bil10326.htm (See also “Female Docs See Fewer Patients, Earn $55,000 Less Than Men” http://finance.yahoo.com/news/female-docs-see-fewer-patients-172100718.html)

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.” http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/why-women-are-leaving-the-workforce-in-record-numbers/

    “A study of students graduating from Carnegie Mellon found that 57% of males negotiated for a higher starting salary than had been offered, compared to just 7% of females. As a result, starting salaries of men were 7.6% (almost $4,000) higher than those of women.”

    A thousand laws won’t close such gaps.

    In fact, not one of the following measures has achieved anything substanial over the last half century:

    -The 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

    -Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

    -The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act

    -Affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – tinyurl.com/74cooen)

    -The 1991 amendments to Title VII

    -The 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act

    -The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act

    -The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

    -The Americans with Disability Act (Title I)

    -Workplace diversity

    -The countless state and local laws and regulations

    -The thousands of company mentors for women

    -The horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

    -TV’s and movies’ last three decades of casting women as thoroughly integrated into the world of work (even in the macho world of spying, James Bond’s boss is a woman)

    -The National Labor Relations Act

    -The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    These measures have failed because women’s pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the female AND male behavior that is influenced by marriage or the anticipation of it:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (See also “More Women are Quitting the Workforce,” Oct. 3, ’14, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/more-women-are-quitting-the-workforce-2014-10-03 If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying home, perhaps it’s because feminists have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman, as illustrated by such titles as this: “Gender wage gap sees women spend 7 weeks working for nothing” http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cwgbaueysnsn/rss2/.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

    The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to, or is wrongly dismissed as irrelevant by, feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do (The leading job for American women as of 2010 is — has been for over 40 years — secretary or administrative assistant. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/gender-wage-gap_n_3424084.html)
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    -work fewer hours on average than men (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm), or work less than full-time more often than their male counterparts (as in the above example regarding physicians)
    -have less interest in being the boss http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/12/11/on-pay-gap-millennial-women-near-parity-for-now/

    Any one of these job choices lowers women’s median pay relative to men’s. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay — as he decreases his freedom.

    Women who make these choices are generally able to do so because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who feels pressured to earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Married men earn more than single men, but even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

    Much more in:

    “Salary Secrecy — Discrimination Against Women?” http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/salary-secrecy-discrimination-against-women/

    “The Doctrinaire Institute for Women’s Policy Research: A Comprehensive Look at Gender Equality” http://www.malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/the-doctrinaire-institute-for-womens-policy-research/

Author

John Myers

John Myers is Senior Editor of KQED's new California Politics and Government Desk.  A veteran of almost two decades of political coverage, he was KQED's longest serving  statehouse bureau chief and recently was political editor for Sacramento's ABC affiliate, News10 (KXTV). John was moderator of the only 2014 gubernatorial debate, and  was named by The Washington Post to two "Best Of" lists: the 2015 list of top state politics reporters and 2014's list of America's most influential statehouse reporters.

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