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MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE PASSES WAGE EQUITY LEGISLATION

BOSTON – Wednesday, October 4, 2023 – Today, in an effort to help close the gender and racial wage gap in Massachusetts, the House of Representatives passed the Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act, a bill that requires employers with 25 or more employees to disclose a salary range when posting a position, and that protects an employee’s right to ask for salary ranges in the workplace.


"With this legislation, Massachusetts will be one step closer to ensuring equal pay for equal work,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “Pay transparency will not only make our workplaces more equitable, it will also make Massachusetts more competitive with other states. I’d like to thank Chairman Cutler, and all my colleagues in the House, for their important work on this legislation.”


“With the passage of this legislation, the House takes bold action to empower workers, reduce persistent gender and racial wage gaps, and help businesses attract and retain talent. Pay transparency is good policy for employees and employers alike,” said Representative Josh S. Cutler (D-Duxbury), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and lead sponsor of the bill. “Thank you to all the coalition advocates who have collaborated with us on this bipartisan legislation, including both business and labor groups.”

In Greater Boston, women on average were paid 70 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2021, according to the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. This gap widens among communities of color, where Black and Latina women have the highest gender and racial wage gaps of 51 and 55 cents, respectively.


“This monumental legislation will ensure that job applicants who have historically earned less are empowered knowing that they have access to salary and hourly wage information prior to applying for a job. Black and Latina women continue to experience the largest wage disparities,” said Representative Brandy Fluker Oakley (D-Mattapan), lead sponsor of the bill. “This bill achieves the dual objectives of attracting a talented workforce, while also working to actualize the right to gender and racial equity in the Commonwealth. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the advocates that worked tirelessly on this bill, to Speaker Mariano for his leadership, and to my colleagues, as well as our business leaders and community members that contributed their support.”


If the bill passed today is signed into law, Massachusetts would become the eleventh state to mandate pay transparency by requiring employers to disclose salary ranges, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Named after the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor and Boston native Frances Perkins, the legislation builds on Massachusetts’ Equal Pay Act which was passed by the Legislature in 2016 to bring more fairness and equality to workplaces.


The bill also requires employers with more than 100 employees to share their federal equal employment opportunity reports with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, which would then be aggregated and published to help identify gender and racial wage gaps by industry.


“As House Vice Chair of the Women’s Caucus, I can attest to the dedication and hard work behind the Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act from leaders throughout Massachusetts,” said Representative Christine Barber (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of the bill. “Significant gender and racial wage gaps continue to exist today, and this legislation takes concrete steps to ensure that women get fair wages to create pay equity in the Commonwealth.”


“This bill is a big step forward for equality in the workplace and economic prosperity for all,” said Representative Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge), a lead sponsor of the bill. “By passing this legislation, the House takes a stand against workplace inequities and, in doing so, makes Massachusetts a more desirable place to live and work. I thank Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, and Chair Cutler for their extraordinary work in delivering this important breakthrough. I also appreciate the efforts of Representative Barber, who co-filed the wage data reporting bill with me.”


Having passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives 148-8, the bill now moves to the Senate for their consideration.


Statements of Support

“Our fight for equal pay on the soccer field was successful. For many others, the fight is still ongoing. I applaud the Mass. House of Representatives for passing a strong wage transparency bill to help level the playing field. We know that shining a light on pay disparities is a key step to closing gender and racial wage gaps and ensuring equal pay for equal work,” said Samantha Mewis, member of the United States Women's National Team who successfully fought for equal pay for professional soccer players.


"The bill that passed the House of Representatives today is a priority for the bipartisan and bicameral MA Caucus of Women Legislators," said House Chair of the MA Caucus of Women Legislators Rep. Hannah Kane. "This bill was chosen as one of just five legislative priorities of the Caucus, following a thorough process that included the input of our 62 members. We know that women, and particularly women of color, continue to make less than what white men make, and this bill provides an important tool to address that disparity. We are grateful to the Speaker for also prioritizing this bill, and to our colleagues for supporting it."


“The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) expresses its deep appreciation to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for voting to pass The Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act (H.4109). We are pleased to see that this legislation features strong tools to address racial and gender wage gaps in our Commonwealth. The provisions pertaining to salary transparency stand to benefit not only workers but also the younger generation by fostering access to sustainable career opportunities that enable them to remain in Massachusetts. Additionally, the data collection measures will play a vital role in highlighting and evaluating potential solutions for the racial wealth gaps that persist in the business sector. Thank you to House sponsors Rep. Josh Cutler and Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley, and to Senator Patricia Jehlen, for leading this effort. With enthusiasm, we call upon the Senate to swiftly follow the House and pass The Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act, ensuring that it reaches the Governor's desk for her prompt signature,” said Nicole Obi, President and CEO, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts.


"This bill sends a clear message: Massachusetts is committed to leading the way on pay equity and, in turn, attracting and retaining a workforce that will allow our businesses and economy to thrive," said Brooke Thomson, President of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM). "We believe these important policy changes strike the right balance by promoting open communication about wages while not overburdening our employers. AIM’s 3,400 employer members and I want to thank Speaker Mariano, Chair Michlewitz, Chair Cutler, Representative Fluker Oakley, and the rest of the House members for their tireless dedication to closing the wage gap.”


"We are grateful for the leadership of Speaker Mariano and Chair Cutler to pass this historic legislation, " said Keith A. Mahoney, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at the Boston Foundation, the convener of the Wage Equity Now Coalition. "TBF's commitment is to equity and closing opportunity gaps, and this is a bold step and long overdue step that enhances transparency and the increases our ability to attract talent and improve our Commonwealth's competitiveness."


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