TRENTON – Three Democratic lawmakers called on Gov. Chris Christie this morning to publicly support equal pay legislation for women in New Jersey.
The issue has national implications, as Sen. Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Speaker Sheila Oliver and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt criticized Christie for supporting presidential candidate Mitt Romney who won’t say whether he would have signed the 2009 fair pay act, as well as Wis. Gov. Scott Walker who repealed equal pay legislation in his state.
Oliver called Christie’s backing of those two “truly appalling,’’ and said, “New Jersey women are waiting to hear if Gov. Christie will take a stand on this legislation or follow the lead of Gov. Romney.”
Lampitt, (D-6), Cherry Hill, is a prime sponsor of a package of four bills that passed the Assembly and is awaiting Senate action.
Among other things, the bills would allow employees to discuss or disclose pay without fear of employer retaliation, mandate employers to post information about gender pay equity rights, mandate businesses holding state contracts disclose paycheck fairness policies, and increase the statute of limitations for workers to pursue compensation.
“Unfortunately, our governor has been silent on this legislation to date,” Lampitt said. “They act as though they want to dismiss the facts and write their own version of reality when it comes to equal pay.”
The legislators pointed out that on average a woman earns 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, and in some fields – such as finance – the gap is wider: 55 to 62 cents for every dollar a male employee earns.
This has created in New Jersey a $15.8 billion wage gap that affects the pensions and Social Security of working women as well as their salaries, the lawmakers said.
“The last thing we need to do is send a signal to working women that their fight is going to be much tougher because common sense legislation is not in play in New Jersey,’’ Weinberg said.
The legislators were participating in the 2012 Governor’s Conference for Women.
The governor’s office did not have an immediate reaction or comment on their statements.