RELEASE: Danielson Fights for Pay Equality
Democratic legislators shared their support today for a national push to achieve equal pay for equal work, holding a Capitol press conference and announcing the introduction of bills in conjunction with dozens of events across the nation commemorating the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Young girls in the crowd wore shirts showing their age in the year 2057, the year Colorado women would finally earn equal pay for equal work at the current rate of progress.
Rep. Jessie Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge, started the event with a call for action. “When women earn equal pay for equal work, our entire economy will grow,” she said. “Equal pay for equal work means breaking down barriers to economic opportunity and financial security. That’s how we grow the middle class.”
After Louise Myrland, representing the Women’s Foundation, presented the larger economic reasons that equal pay is important for Colorado, Lily Griego, a public employee, told her story of demoralizing effect of her unequal wages.
“I realized I was being paid much less than the men I worked with,” said Griego. “I struggled not to become bitter every two weeks knowing that my male cohorts were taking home significantly larger paychecks than I was.”
Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, reminded the crowd of the people who fought for her right to stand before them as a legislator.
“I now have the opportunity to fight for progress,” said Rep. Buckner. “That’s why I’m here today and that’s why I am sponsoring the Equal Pay in State Contracts Act—to fight for women, women of color, and men of color to be treated with the fairness and respect that they deserve. I want to look my granddaughter in the eye and tell her I fought for her and the women of Colorado to earn equal pay for equal work.”
Rep. Buckner is sponsoring the Equal Pay in State Contracts Act, HB16-1001, with Rep. Danielson. It would ensure that every company that competes for a state contract has a written and enforced equal pay policy.
Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, is sponsoring the Fair Pay from the Start Act, to be introduced this week. It would allow prospective employers to ask job applicants what their salary requirement is, but not what their previous salary was. “Being asked your salary history can perpetuate a lifetime of being undervalued, and underpaid—potentially costing Colorado families hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she said.
Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Pettersen, was accompanied by her daughter, Sienna.
“I work hard to ensure that my son and my daughter dream big and know they can do anything they set their minds to when they grow up,” said Rep. Winter. “But it breaks my heart that as I prepare my daughter to believe in herself, I know I am sending her into a workforce that undervalues her simply for being a woman.”
Rep. Danielson and Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, finished the event by talking about a third bill in the Equal Pay package, HB16-1156.
“I know my daughters are going to be leaders in whatever career they choose,” said Rep. Salazar. “I want them to know I fought for them to be paid equal pay for equal work. That’s why I am carrying the Pay Transparency Protection Act— women at all professional levels and all employees deserve to be protected if they wish to discuss their wages.”
Currently, most workers in Colorado are protected by law from retribution for talking about their wages with fellow employees. The Pay Transparency Protection Act bill extends that protection to all employees, helping women and men earn equal pay for equal work.