Legislator says transparency will help narrow gender-based pay gap

Print Article

A state Senate panel heard a bill Wednesday aiming to bridge the state’s gender-based pay gap before tabling a similar proposal.

Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, introduced the Montana Paycheck Transparency Act, or Senate Bill 217. The bill aims to address pay disparities between male and female workers by eliminating workplace policies that prohibit discussion of compensation.

During the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee’s hearing on the bill, Sands characterized her proposal as one more step toward achieving the goals set forth in Montana’s first-in-the-nation equal pay law, passed in 1919.

“We don’t see the type of blatant discrimination that many of you might think as pay discrimination,” Sands told the committee. “There are a lot of structural problems that contribute to the fact that women continue in every single field to earn, on the average, less than their male counterparts.”

Montana’s Commissioner of Labor and Industry, Pam Busey, endorsed the act, telling the committee that women on average make 68.5 percent of the median earnings for men in the state. She also noted that the bill doesn’t explicitly address wage discrimination, focusing instead on wage transparency.

“We tried very much to target something that there’s a lot of data about, and that’s that women don’t negotiate pay like their male counterparts,” she said, “and being able to just be transparent, we have the data that demonstrates how helpful that is to women. We have that data based on state pay plans and collective bargaining agreements.”

The Paycheck Transparency Act would also bar employers from factoring a prospective employee’s previous salaries into their hiring decisions.

The committee did not immediately take action on the bill.

SENATE BILL 148, dubbed the Montana Pay Equity Act, was tabled later in the committee’s Wednesday meeting.

Sponsored by Sen. Sue Malek, D-Missoula, the bill proposed language prohibiting pay discrimination based on gender, while allowing variations in wage due to seniority, merit systems and commission-based salaries.

It also sought to strengthen requirements that the Montana Department of Labor and Industry maintain work classifications and corresponding pay schedules based on skill requirements, available labor supply and other factors in occupational groups dominated by either sex. Those standards cut both ways, with language also requiring that men be paid equal compensation to women for equal work.

The bill also included language similar to Sands’ — prohibiting private employers from keeping wages secret among employees and barring wage history as a hiring consideration.

The committee voted to table the bill on an 8-2 vote.

Reporter Sam Wilson can be reached at 758-4407 or by email at swilson@dailyinterlake.com.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Sun Road opens to pass

June 28, 2017 at 8:40 am | Daily Inter Lake The wait is finally over. On Wednesday morning, Glacier National Park opened the full 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road to motorists — kicking off the unofficial start to Glacier’s busy season. Dr...

Comments

Read More

County gets $2.6 million to offset nontaxable land

June 28, 2017 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Flathead County will receive $2.6 million this year from the federal government under a long-running program that compensates local governments for nontaxable federal land. The appropriation is ab...

Comments

Read More

Daines remains undecided on GOP health bill

June 28, 2017 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Montana’s Republican senator has yet to take a stance on his party’s plan to replace the nation’s current law shaping how people access health coverage. During a tele-town hall Wednesday night, Sen....

Comments

Read More

Lightning sparks grass fire near Herron Park

June 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Daily Inter Lake A small grass fire in the Herron Park area near Kalispell garnered response from state agencies on Wednesday afternoon. According to the Kalispell Interagency Dispatch Center, the 0.41-acre blaze wa...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2017 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X