DETROIT (CBS Detroit) “How much do you think he makes?” That question could come out of dirty corners around the office water cooler and get out in the sunshine if Michigan women’s groups have their way.

“We know from research … that when women graduate from college, controlling for the institution graduated, from grade point average, college major — a dozen different factors — women are paid 5 percent less right out of the gate,” said Mary Pollock, legislative vice president of the Michigan National Organization of Women.

Pollock represents a coalition of 21 Michigan groups promoting “Equal Pay Day” with a rally at noon Tuesday in Lansing where they’ll pass out fresh chocolate chip cookies with a big “bite” taken out of them to represent the bite in women’s wages.

“Employers need to control that, that sex based wage differentials aren’t allowed,” added Pollock.

But they’re not just baking and making noise, these groups have crafted bills spurring equal pay for women.

Specifically, they’re asking for the passage of four bills, including a wage transparency act that would allow people to know the pay of everyone else in their workplace, which they believe would keep the boss honest about whether men are earning more than women doing the same job.

In unions, where pay is open, Pollock said women make $11,000 more per year than they do without unions. Pollock said it’s especially important since Michigan became a Right to Work state last year, which potentially means fewer women with union contracts.

“In the private sector you may not know how much other people are making, the only way to prevent sex-based discrimination is to find out much everyone is making,” Pollock said.

Names would be redacted from the transparency reports, but it would include the race and gender of everyone in the same job classification. Pollock said it would “arm employees” to file discrimination claims when the numbers show men are earning more for the same job.

The federal bill, called the Fair Pay Act, was recently introduced to Congress; the state bill is being introduced Tuesday.

“They’re trying to do this both federally and at the state level and it’s getting a lot of support from mostly women’s groups,” WWJ legal analyst Charlie Langton said, adding statistics show women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes so “maybe drastic action is needed.”

Blabbing about how much money you make could get you fired under the laws in 46 states — but not in Michigan, according to Langton.

“People don’t want to talk about how much they get paid, but the boss, in particular doesn’t want to tell the workers for fear of morale issues, if nothing else,” Langton said.


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