Fair Pay Bill Dies Again

Few were surprised Tuesday when the Senate blocked a bill designed to provide more pay equity for women.

The procedural vote, which required 60 supporters for passage, followed party lines, with independents Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joining the Democrats. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voted no so that he could re-introduce the bill.

The measure called for employers to prove that pay differences are based on qualifications rather than gender. It also would prohibit retaliation against workers who question or complain about inequality in pay, and would open employers to civil lawsuits.

Democrats backing the measure expressed outrage after the vote. Republicans opposing it accused Democrats of exploiting the issue to broaden support of female voters in the fall.

“Let me be clear. Pay discrimination based on gender is unacceptable,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). “Despite the political rhetoric around here, everyone agrees on this fact. The question is, will the Paycheck Fairness Act actually address workplace inequality? And the simple answer is no.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) called it “a very sad day here in the United States Senate.”

President Obama urged passage, holding a conference call with supporters before the vote.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and other business groups had sent a letter to the Senate, voicing their opposition.

“The Paycheck Fairness Act would impose unprecedented government control over how employees are paid at even the nation’s smallest employers,” the letter said. “This flawed legislation would outlaw many legitimate practices that employers currently use to set employee rates, even where there is no evidence of intentional discrimination.”

Because Mikulski introduced the bill so recently, on May 22, there are no congressional filings yet showing lobbying on the measure.

However, she sponsored an earlier version in April, just in time to record a lobbyist rush. Companies and organizations lobbying that bill in the first quarter of 2012 included:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • HR Policy Association
  • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • American Bar Association
  • The Home Depot
  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
  • National Association for The Advancement of Colored People
  • American Association of University Women
  • National Public Employer Labor Relations Association

Many of these clients also lobbied a 2010 version of the measure, which was also also turned down by the Senate.

Those lobbying in 2010:

  • 3M Company
  • ACE INA Holdings, Inc.
  • Aerojet-General Corporation
  • AFL-CIO
  • American Association of University Women
  • American Bakers Association
  • American Bankers Association
  • American Benefits Council
  • American Family Mutual Insurance Company (aka American Family Insurance Group)
  • American Health Care Association
  • American Hotel & Lodging Association
  • Americans For Tax Reform
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.
  • AT&T Services, Inc. and Its Affiliates
  • Bridgestone Americas Inc.
  • Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
  • Caterpillar Inc.
  • Chamber of Commerce of The U.S.A.
  • College and University Professional Association For Human Resources
  • Conference of Provincials of North America
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Dollar General Corporation
  • Food Marketing Institute
  • Heritage Action For America
  • Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • International Business MacHines Corporation (IBM)
  • International Franchise Association
  • Liberty Mutual Group
  • Metlife Group, Inc.
  • National Association Management Group
  • National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
  • National Public Employer Labor Relations Association
  • National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
  • National Retail Federation
  • National Small Business Association
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
  • Natl Assn of Manufacturers
  • New England Fuel Institute
  • Retail Industry Leaders Association
  • Service Employees International Union
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
  • Society For Human Resource Management
  • The Home Depot
  • Walgreen Co.
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Yum! Brands, Inc.

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