Tuesday, October 7, 2014


When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, it was a different world than it is now. Work and family responsibilities were more gender determined, with men making up more than two-thirds of the workforce, and women predominately being responsible for the family. Today, women comprise half of the workforce, are still the primary family caretakers, and continue to be paid less than men for the same work. With today’s growing economic inequality, women also are more likely than men to be single parents in minimum wage jobs. Negative consequences for women are immediate in their struggle to provide for their children, and long term in their decreased social security benefits, seventy-five per cent of what men receive.  The fundamentals of human existence center on work and family, each interrelated and dependent on the other. Just as our state needs to be business and worker friendly, Vermont needs to balance the needs of earning a living and raising a family. To ensure gender equity, the General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee of the Vermont House, of which I am vice chair, continues to put forth legislation that creates a fair work environment for all Vermonters. The Equal Pay Act calls for the same pay for men and women performing jobs with similar responsibilities, experiences and training. It encourages salary transparency and prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose any unlawful employment practices. The law also requires employers to consider reasonable employee requests for flexible working arrangements. The Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act requires an employer to provide an employee, who is a nursing mother, appropriate private time and space to express breast milk. The Earned Paid Sick Time bill, which will come up again for consideration in 2015, calls for earned accumulated paid time off to be used when an employee or family member becomes ill. This legislation is important because a great number of the sixty-thousand Vermonters who don’t have this protection are single mothers in low paying jobs. When illness strikes the wage earner or her child, the mother has a choice: Go to work ill or send the ill child to school, or stay home and lose a day’s pay. For public health and financial reasons, none of these outcome is acceptable.  Raising the minimum wage and permitting the forming of unions by direct care and day care providers particularly benefit women who predominate in these low paying jobs.  In a national setting where Congress and the Supreme Court appear to have more respect for the personhood of corporations than women, it is with satisfaction that I can be part of our moving forward in Vermont to create a just balance between work and family, and fairness in employment for men and women alike.  For anyone with questions or comments, please be in touch by mail at 58 Hi-Hopes Road, Wardsboro, VT 05355, by phone at 802-896-9408, by Email at jmoran@leg.state.vt.us or by website at johnmoranvt.com Thank you,State Representative John MoranDover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro and Whitingham