Categorized | Government, News

Updates from Schatz (April 1-7)

MEDIA RELEASE

SCHATZ APPLAUDS PRESIDENT’S EQUAL PAY ACTIONS

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz supported the announcement that President Obama will be taking two new executive actions to help combat pay discrimination and strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws.

The executive actions apply the standards of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Schatz is a co-sponsor of and the Senate is considering this week, to federal contractors.

The Paycheck Fairness Act improves the remedies available to victims of discrimination and closes loopholes that allows employers to pay women less.

“In Hawaii, the most expensive state in the nation, women are paid 83 cents for every dollar paid to a man. This means a woman working full-time takes home almost $8,000 dollars a year less. Women earning less for the same work is unfair and it’s plain wrong,” Schatz said.

“And holding back women as well as their families also hurts our economy. President Obama’s Executive Actions will help combat any pay discrimination and set an important example in our economy through their application with federal contractors. We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this week to make sure all women have a fair shot at equal pay for equal work,” he said.

April 8 is Equal Pay Day, the day representing how far into this year a woman must work to earn a salary equal to what a man earned last year.

Obama is signing an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation.

The Executive Order does not compel workers to discuss pay, nor does it require employers to publish or otherwise disseminate pay data – but it does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies.

The President is also signing a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race.

The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to target enforcement more effectively by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies and reducing burdens on other employers.

SENATE PASSES 5 MONTH UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RENEWAL

The U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation to renew unemployment insurance for five months and give immediate relief to millions of Americans, including more than 200,000 veterans, who lost unemployment insurance starting Dec. 28, 2013.

The bill will allow for retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries going back to Dec. 28.

Schatz has been a vocal advocate of the need to restore unemployment insurance, voting earlier this year to advance legislation to extend benefits.

“Unemployment benefits not only help families who need it when they fall on hard times, but they also spur economic growth and create jobs,” Schatz said. “The thousands of families in Hawaii and the millions across the country who are struggling to get by while looking for a new job deserve for the House to do what’s right and give this bill a vote.”

There are more than 60,000 unemployed people in the State of Hawaii. About 7,700 people have been affected by the expiration of the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

The U.S. Senate voted 59-38 to pass the bipartisan bill. The House of Representatives has not yet scheduled a vote on this legislation.

SCHATZ COMMENDS DEFENSE HAGEL’S ATTENTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE AT ASEAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEETING IN HAWAII

Schatz commended Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on news that he plans to emphasize the security risks posed by climate change during the first-ever U.S.-hosted meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“We are fortunate to have Secretary Hagel represent us at the ASEAN Defense Forum in Hawaii. His strong leadership and foresight in calling attention to this critical issue underscores the need to combat the potentially high security risks posed by climate change,” Schatz said.

“Climate change is already shaping the U.S. military’s strategic operating environment, forcing the Department of Defense to grapple with new mission requirements that it generally did not anticipate a decade ago,” he said. “The Asia-Pacific region is particularly at risk of extreme weather events that may become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. This forum is an opportunity for international leaders to work together to manage climate change.”

Last month, Schatz led 31 senators for an all-night session on the Senate floor to call for action on climate change. In his remarks, he urged world leaders attending the ASEAN Defense Forum to discuss the security challenges posed by climate change and the opportunities for proactive engagement to weather any climate related impacts in the future.

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