HELENA – With Montana women making 67 percent of what men are paid for the same job, Gov. Steve Bullock this week created the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force.
He charged the task force with gathering information, furnishing advice and providing him with recommendations to close the pay equity gap here.
As task force co-chairs, Bullock appointed Pam Bucy, commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry, and Sheila Hogan, director of the Department of Administration. Other members will be appointed later.
Bullock sponsored a reception Thursday morning to celebrate the task force establishment and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s signing of the Equal Pay Act in June 1963. Legislators and education leaders participated, along with representatives of groups such as the Women’s Foundation, the American Association of University Women and the Women’s Leadership Network.
When Kennedy signed the bill into law, women were paid only 59 cents for every $1 that men were paid for the same work, Bullock said. Today, American women nationally earn 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men, he said.
In Montana, however, women continue to lag, making 67 cents for every $1 men make for doing the same work, he said. The state ranks 39th nationally for pay equity.
“I’d match the Montana work ethic up against any other state in the nation, and 39th place for pay equity is, simply put, unreasonable,” Bullock said. “Montana’s workers deserve a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work, regardless of their gender.”
Women make up 60 percent of the Montana labor force, graduate from high school at a higher rate than men and from college at the same rate, he said, and they work just as hard.
“My own daughters have a few more years before we send them out into the workforce, but when they fill out their first job application, I want them to know that the work they do is valued, and just as important as their male coworkers,” Bullock said.