On Equal Pay Day, Udall and Gardner wrangle on women’s issues

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DENVER -- Following the lead of President Obama, who pressured congressional Republicans to do more to help women gain equal footing in the workforce, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall's campaign looked to soften up its opponent, Congressman Cory Gardner, on Equal Pay Day.

The nationwide campaign for equal pay comes on the day when women, on average, catch up to men -- when they finally make the same amount of money that men made in the last calendar year.

Starting with an early morning press call and continuing all day on Twitter, Udall's campaign hit Gardner, R-Yuma, for voting against the the Paycheck Fairness Act last year.

"Only Congressman Gardner knows why he opposes paycheck equality for Colorado women," said state Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, on the press call organized by Udall's campaign.

"Now, as a former flamenco dancer, I can appreciate clever footwork. But Congressman Gardner needs to quit dancing around the issue and tell Colorado women why he thinks they should earn less money for doing the same work.

On Twitter, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pushed a hashtag #GOPpaygap, trying to blame Republicans for the fact that women earn just 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Republicans shot back that Udall doesn't practice what he preaches, alleging that the senator pays his female staffers less than males.

"If you apply the Democrats’ misleading math to their own staffs, the White House pays women 88 cents for every dollar a man makes, while Mark Udall pays women on his Senate staff just 85 cents on the dollar," said the NRC's Michael Short.

"So will Udall immediately condemn himself for being a part of the problem, or will he admit Democrats are just trying to play politics with Colorado women?"

The conservative blog, Colorado Peak Politics, also crunched the numbers and concluded that Gardner actually pays his female staffers $1.04 for every dollar earned by male staffers -- a 25 percent higher rate than Udall apparently pays.

Udall is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which faces another Senate vote on Wednesday.

“Colorado women should be empowered to determine and build the lives they aspire to — both at home and in the workplace," Udall said in a statement issued by his campaign. "It is simply unacceptable for businesses to pay women less than men doing the same work.

"I am a proud cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act because equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue that affects families across Colorado.”

On a separate issue, Gardner, looking to shore up his support with women voters, submitted written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee expressing his support for the inclusion of Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s language on sexual assault in the military in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

"Last year’s NDAA made reforms and improvements to the manner in which military sexual assault cases are handled within the military ranks," Gardner wrote. "Commanders no longer have the authority to unilaterally overturn court martial decisions, although they maintain their role in the chain of command as sexual assault cases are prosecuted.

"While these reforms were significant, sexual assault in the military continues to be under intense scrutiny and Congress must act to further protect the victims of sexual assault.  I support measures which would remove from the military’s chain of command the decision to prosecute claims of sexual assault and other major military crimes."



  • quickdraw53

    what we need to do is to make sure Udall never makes it back to washington. Udall has voted for everything that obama wants and then comes back here and tell us alot of BS. its time the people of this state wakeup to the harm that Udall is doing to this country and put a stop to it

  • Bob Fetters

    I for one think the current equal pay conversation is an attempt to blow a smoke screen over the serious issue of the ACA. I have been informed I may not renew my supplemental health plan because of the ACA and more importantly, I have a family member who was forced to move to part time work at one of our Denver area hospitals (or be terminated). Not only did her take home pay get cut more than in half, but she lost all her benifits which included health insurance. At this point, the equality of her hourly pay is far less improtant than full time work and health coverage. How about the 100’s of female workers who got terminated rather than accecpt part time work. Whats equal about that?

  • wjriedel

    The Gender Pay Gap Is a Myth
    By Steve Tobak
    Critical Thinking
    Published May 03, 2013

    Every year around this time we’re treated to the same eyeball catching headlines about the stubborn persistence of the gender pay gap. The White House has an entire website decrying how “women are still paid less than men,” 77 cents on every dollar, according to the Census Bureau.

    Indeed, President Obama is putting his political clout behind the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation intended to address the age-old income disparity between men and women that everyone assumes is a result of discrimination.

    There’s only one problem. It isn’t true.

    If you can get past all the populist media headlines, the politicians pandering for the female vote, and the big bucks behind all the lobbyists, feminist groups, and women’s councils and just look at the facts, you’ll learn that the wage gap is not the result of discrimination.

    There’s a mountain of data, research, and studies from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, even a 2011 White House report prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce for the White House Council on Women and Girls, that all say the same thing.

    The gender pay gap is not a result of discrimination, coercion, or anything like that. To put it simply, it’s a matter of women’s choices.

    Many women sacrifice pay for all sorts of reasons including security, safety, flexibility, and fulfillment. Their priorities are vastly different than men’s. And when you account for that, when you compare apples to apples, when women actually make the same career choices as men, there is no gap. Men and women earn the same.

    Moreover, treating women as victims, which they are not, instead of empowering them, which we should, does nothing but hold them back. It does not serve their interests one bit. And the legislation will likely do more harm than good, as is usually the case when government overreaches and overreacts to satisfy special interests.

    To dispel this age-old myth once and for all, just take a quick look at the unbiased facts, objective data, and conclusions of the studies:
    An in-depth, 93-page U.S. Department of Labor study came to the “unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”

    Indeed, the primary reason for the wage disparity is that men choose higher-paying fields and occupations.

    According to the White House report, “In 2009, only 7 percent of female professionals were employed in the relatively high paying computer and engineering fields, compared with 38 percent of male professionals.” Professional women, on the other hand, were far more likely to choose careers in lower paying fields such as education and health care.

    Even within the same field or category, men are more likely than women to pursue areas of specialization with higher levels of stress. Within the medical field, for example, men are far more likely to become surgeons while women tend to choose lower stress and lower paying specialties like pediatrics and dentistry.

    Another major factor is that many women have different priorities than men do. They tend to value factors like job security, workplace safety, flexible hours, and work conditions much higher than they value compensation. For example, Department of Labor surveys show that men work an average of 9% more hours than women. Demanding jobs that command higher pay naturally require longer hours.

    Men are also far more likely to choose careers that involve physical labor, overnight and weekend shifts, dangerous conditions, as well as uncomfortable, isolated, outdoor, and undesirable locations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 most dangerous jobs are all male-dominated. These occupations also pay more than less dangerous and taxing careers.

    All that notwithstanding, a 2010 analysis of Census Bureau data showed that young, single women who’ve never had a child actually earned 8% more than their male counterparts in most U.S. cities. The findings seem to be driven by an ongoing trend: more and more women – now more than men, in fact – are attending college and going on to relatively high-paying professional careers.

    Now, I can probably just walk away from the keyboard and call it a day, but I won’t, and here’s why. Even though the facts are clear, I’m not going to sit here and ignore the one ginormous difference between men and women that obviously affects our choices: the baby elephant in the room.

    I’m pretty sure that women still have all the babies and still do most of the child rearing and housework in America. Clearly, there are biological and societal factors that contribute to their personal career choices.

    Not only that, but having been an executive in corporate America, I know that, while gender discrimination is illegal and women have cracked the glass ceiling, for whatever reason, a lot of board rooms still resemble good old boys clubs.

    I’m not entirely sure who needs to do the work to change that – the women climbing the corporate ladder, the men and women in charge of hiring and promoting them, or both – but one thing’s for sure. That’s not a job for Congress – or President Obama.

    • wjriedel

      Oops, Joel, I did not look closely at your response and that it was to Eli Stokel and not me. I apologize. My mistake.

  • wjriedel

    I guess you didn’t read the post. You really should before replying. The article, The Gender Pay Gap Is a Myth was written by Steve Tobak. If you had looked at the very first 2 lines you would have seen that. Also, did you happen to notice that this information reflects “a mountain of data, research, and studies from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, even a 2011 White House report prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce for the White House Council on Women and Girls, that all say the same thing.” Get that? The information came FROM THE US GOVERNMENT, including a 2011 White House report prepared by the US Department of Commerce FOR THE WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON WOMEN AND GIRLS. The report was for Obama, yet he continues to lie because he does not like the FACTS the report shows. You are just as bad as the people who make these lying claims.

  • coloradocommish

    More distraction from a Party, and a President in serious trouble.

    Performing their scripted “Soap Opera” for the idiot/low-information/pop culture voter in this country.

  • dapandico

    Why does Congress need to get involved in military sexual assault cases? Congress needs to clean their own house first.

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