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Oregon Senate OKs 'Equal Pay Act'

Bend's Knopp applauds groundbreaking effort

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill requiring that women and other protected classes statewide to be paid the same wages for the same work as others in the same positions.

House Bill 2005 – the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 – was championed by Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and Rep. Ann Lininger (D-Lake Oswego).

The bill – which passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support on the Senate floor – requires that employers pay equal wages for the same work, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability, age or veteran status. Terms, conditions and privileges of employment also are required to be equal under the bill, which now returns to the House for concurrence on Senate revisions.

“This is a victory for women, people of color and others who earn less even though they do the same work as their coworkers,” Taylor said. “This bill requires that compensation decisions be fair and based only on legitimate job-related factors.”

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, women in Oregon are paid 82 cents for every dollar that men are paid, amounting to an annual wage gap of around $8,393. That disparity is even bigger for women of color. African American women are paid 70 cents; Latinas 51 cents; and Asian women 75 cents compared to every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, the group reported.

Given the rising number of woman-headed households, as well as those that rely on two incomes for survival, this is a serious issue, lawmakers said.

In Oregon, the gender-based pay gap means that women are earning altogether $8 billion less than men annually, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. More than 30 percent of the 160,000 Oregon households headed by women are living in poverty.

House Bill 2005 requires that differences in compensation among employees must be based on job-related reasons such as merit, seniority, quantity or quality of production, workplace locations, travel, education, training or experience.

The bill also prohibits employers from using salary history to screen applicants or determine compensation, as well as acquiring salary history from applicants or employees from current or former supervisors. An applicant still can disclose salary history after a compensation offer has been made.

“Unfortunately, even in 2017, there are many inequality issues that we still need to address, and fair pay is one of the most critical,” Taylor said. “The wage gap that we’re currently seeing is morally unacceptable. Two people doing the same type and quality of work should be compensated equally. This bill ensures we are doing that. It even requires us to look at ourselves, as a government employer, to make certain our employment practices across state government are in line with the values that we are advancing today across all sectors.”

Taylor, who chairs the Senate Committee on Workforce, worked closely with Vice Chair Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend), as well as a variety of stakeholders. Knopp applauded Taylor’s efforts to move the groundbreaking legislation forward.

“Chair Kathleen Taylor provided the leadership that was needed to craft the Oregon Equal Pay Act,” Knopp said. “She showed incredible principle, courage and integrity that led to this historic agreement having broad bipartisan support.”

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News release from the Oregon Senate Republican Office:

Oregon is on its way to better ensuring employers compensate workers equal pay for equal work. Today, the Senate passed the Oregon Equal Pay Act, House Bill 2005 B, to encourage companies, large and small, to determine if they engage in pay inequity and gives them tools needed to correct compensation practices.
 
Senate Republican Deputy Leader Tim Knopp, of Bend, offered the following statement:
 
"The Senate refined a critical piece of legislation that will help protect workers from the pay inequity. It is 2017, not 1817, it is about time we crafted a sound, workable solution. Passing the Oregon Equal Pay Act is another recent example of the tremendous work that can be done in the Legislature when both parties work together to improve the lives of all Oregonians."
 
Democrat state Sen. Kathleen Taylor, of Portland, offered the following statement:
 
"I am grateful for the hard work of my committee, including my vice chair Sen. Knopp. I appreciate his ability to bring a variety of stakeholders to the table to get consensus on this bill. I am confident House Bill 2005 will be meaningful for workers across Oregon to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve."
 
The Center for Public Service (CPS) was engaged by the Oregon state government Chief Human Resource Office (CHRO) to examine and identify pay gaps that exist among employees within the executive branch. The results of the regression analysis consistently show a pattern of difference in pay levels showing that in Oregon males earn more than females and that non-minorities earn more than minorities.
 
Additionally, when looking at the combination of these traits, the median results consistently show that minority females experience the lowest median monthly base pay, while non-minority males receive the highest median monthly base pay. Females in the executive branch are predicted to earn $380.34a month less than males in their monthly base pay and minorities are predicted to earn $92.11a month less than non-minorities in their monthly base pay. Even more detailed, broken-down analysis can be viewed here. A supplemental report can be viewed here.
 
According to the 2016 Women's Foundation report entitled Count Her In, Oregon women earn between 53 and 83 cents for every dollar men in Oregon earn. The problem exists, and is more acute for those with intersectional identities. The county-by-county earnings analysis in Oregon reveals that Oregon women face a substantially different wage gap based on where they live. 

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