Enforcing the Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work: Which Side Are You On, Attorney General Abbott?

Attorney General Greg Abbott gave a lengthy non-answer in a weekend interview when asked if, as governor, he would veto a Texas Equal Pay Act enforcing the right of Texas women to equal pay for equal work. Texas AFT President Linda Bridges on Monday had some choice words for the attorney general in response:

“Attorney General Greg Abbott has given Texas women and their families good reason to question his judgment on a fundamental issue of fairness in the workplace: equal pay for equal work.

“We don’t have to wonder what Sen. Wendy Davis, Abbott’s Democratic opponent, thinks about this issue. She led the successful fight in the Texas Senate last year to pass the Texas Equal Pay Act with bipartisan support, only to see it vetoed for no good reason by Gov. Rick Perry.

“Abbott had a chance over the weekend to state his position on the Texas Equal Pay Act in an interview that aired on WFAA-TV, but he studiously avoided a direct answer to this direct question: ‘As governor would you veto that same bill?’

“There’s no excuse for waffling on this issue. Despite claims to the contrary, existing laws clearly have not been strong enough to enforce Texas women’s rights to equal pay; the latest census figures show that women in Texas receive only 82 cents on the dollar, on average, for doing the same jobs men do. The students in every classroom in Texas can tell you that is just fundamentally unfair, and it poses real economic harm to the many Texas families who depend in whole or in part on a working woman’s paycheck to make ends meet.

“The state Equal Pay Act would give prompt, affordable access to relief in Texas courts to women who have been denied their right to equal pay for equal work. Texas is one of only a handful of states that lack such enforcement provisions under state law. We know Wendy Davis will do all in her power to pass the Texas Equal Pay Act as governor. Unless and until he comes out with a straight answer to a direct question, we now have every reason to suspect Greg Abbott would do just the opposite.”