Posted at: 05/11/2014 2:12 PM
A big day for Minnesota women as WESA was signed into law today.
Photo: Office of the Governor
ST. PAUL, MN – Lawmakers and advocates joined Governor Mark Dayton on Mother’s Day to sign the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) into law. Women in Minnesota make up half the workforce, but earn on average just 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. WESA is nation-leading legislation designed to break down barriers to economic progress for women. WESA strengthens workplace protections and flexibility for pregnant women and nursing mothers, expands employment opportunities for women in high-wage, high-demand occupations, and reduces the gender pay gap through increased enforcement of equal pay laws.
“Today, as we honor our Mothers and Grandmothers, we have taken a giant step forward for Minnesota's working women and their families” said Governor Mark Dayton. “It should not require a law to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace, or that they are paid equally for their work. However, too many women still experience serious economic disparities, unfair gender barriers, and other workplace discrimination in our state. For all of them, this law is vitally important and long-overdue. I thank the bill’s authors, Senator Sandy Pappas and Representative Carly Melin, for their leadership on behalf of all Minnesota women.”
“When future generations look back at the barriers facing working women today, we will be able to look them in the eye and tell them we took action to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said chief author State Representative Carly Melin (DFL – Hibbing). “This legislation strengthens working families and grows the middle class by ensuring that our mothers, sisters, daughters, and grandmothers have equal opportunities for economic security.”
"While Minnesota's economy continues to grow, progress for women's economic prosperity has lagged woefully behind,” said Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL – St. Paul), chief author of the Senate bill. “WESA will move us in the right direction and ensure women finally receive equal pay for equal work, that we don't face discrimination for being mothers, and that we are treated fairly in the workplace.”
“When women succeed, Minnesota succeeds,” said Speaker of the House Paul Thissen. “Minnesota’s economy is headed in the right direction, but not everyone is sharing in the gains. And when you dig underneath the first layer of economic challenges facing Minnesotans, we find that the people struggling to stay or step-in to the middle class are disproportionately women. The Women’s Economic Security Act aims to break down barriers to economic progress so that women -- and all Minnesotans -- have a fair opportunity to succeed.”
The Women’s Economic Security Act takes the following steps to break down barriers to success for women:
Stronger Workplace Protections
Closing the Gender Pay Gap
Expanded family and sick leave
More opportunities in high-demand jobs
Enhanced support for victims of violence
Economic Security in Retirement