In a big win for Massachusetts women and families, I’m proud to say that my state signed groundbreaking equal pay legislation into law yesterday. This move comes after the Massachusetts House and Senate unanimously passed the bill.
ICYMI: The Wage Gap in the U.S.
We’ve all heard the statistics by now. In 2016, Black women earn about 63 cents for every dollar earned by white men; Latinas earn about 54 cents; and white women earn about 78 cents. Across the country, the “gender gap” in pay still persists for women — and for women of color in particular. This gender pay gap compounds the structural barriers many women of color face in accessing quality health care and keeping families healthy and secure — and can have dire life consequences.
Nobody should be forced to choose between buying groceries, paying their rent, or filling their prescription because they are not earning a fair wage.
Ensuring all women receive pay equity is something we can address to help make a real difference in women’s lives — and the public overwhelmingly agrees. In Massachusetts, we at the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts knew something had to be done. We joined an equal pay coalition, spearheaded by partner organizations including Mass NOW, the Women’s Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, to address the gender wage gap head on – and with the strong support of our elected officials, it worked.
What You Need to Know About Massachusetts’ New Equal Pay Law
The new law, An Act to establish pay equity, helps promote equal pay for equal work by:
Providing employers with a much-needed definition of comparable work;
Banning employers from firing employees for discussing their compensation with coworkers; and
Banning employers from asking for salary history as part of the interview process.
This law proved it: Our elected officials overwhelming support equal pay – and are ready to move Massachusetts women forward. Now, we have more adequate means to address the gender pay gap and ensure everyone in Massachusetts earns equal pay for equal work.
Moving Massachusetts (and the Rest of the Country) Forward
Today, we celebrate the passage of this new law and what it means for Massachusetts women — but our work is far from done. In Massachusetts, we still need to pass progressive policies that address issues like inadequate access to comprehensive LGBTQ-inclusive sex education and confidential health care.
Come November, it’s essential that we elect a president and local reproductive health champions who will move our country forward in breaking down barriers to economic and reproductive freedom for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live.
Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak is the President of the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts