February 22, 2017

Utah Republican leader resigns over controversial views on equal pay

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Ex-Wascatch County GOP Vice Chair James Green thinks paying women and men equally for the same work can have “negative unintended consequences.”

Last week, while Melville House author Jessa Crispin trenchantly questioned whether women’s increasing representation in the corporate world has done much to advance broader economic equality, Republicans in Wascatch County, Utah, were debating a related issue, albeit in significantly more regressive terms.

As Fox 13 in Salt Lake City reported, on Friday, the Vice Chairman of the Wascatch County GOP resigned his position amidst controversy over a letter he’d sent to the Wascatch Wave and Park Record newspapers stating his opposition to a state senate bill that would “require employers to adopt base-line policies about equal work and equal pay.”

In the letter, published February 15, James Green argued against Senate Bill 210 on the grounds that it would hurt single-income families. As he writes, men have traditionally earned more than women because they “need to make enough to support their families and allow the Mother to remain in the home to raise and nurture the children.” When “even more women enter the workforce that creates more competition for jobs (even men’’s jobs) and puts further downward pressure on the pay for all jobs… meaning more and more Mothers will be forced into the workforce” which is “bad for families and thus for all society.”

The backlash was swift. On the 16th, Green issued a statement clarifying that he intended “no offense toward Women,” but merely wished to assert that the government shouldn’t “be dictating to private establishments what they must do in regard to employment, hiring, or wages.” Rep. Tim Quinn, a Republican representing Wasatch County, called for Green to step down, and twenty-four hours later, he did.

Can we even begin to deal with the fact that an official in a mainstream political party in the United States felt it necessary to air his antiquated ideas about Mothers (with a capital M!) in the workplace? Probably not. Still, Green’s sexist drivel does touch, peripherally, on the very real financial precarity that men, women, and their families continue to face, despite increased opportunities for women. Establishing equal pay will, of course, only go so far to ameliorate that.

 

 

Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.

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