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Gov. Whitmer’s new executive directive aims to tackle equal pay issues

Whitmer for Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive directive she says will help secure equal pay for equal work among state employees.

The directive prohibits state agencies and departments from asking about a potential employee's current or previous salaries until they give the applicant a conditional offer of employment that includes proposed compensation.

Judy Welch is the executive director for the West Michigan branch of Michigan Women Forward. She says this could help women who have historically been paid less.

“Hopefully, the corporations and the government will look at the job, and the skills, and pay according[ly], and not based on what we’ve received in the past,” she said.

Welch said she hopes employers outside of the state government will be inspired by the new directive and follow suit.

But others are not convinced this directive tackles the right problem in the right way.

Holly Wetzel is with the Mackinac Center, a free market think tank. She says the issue isn’t that men and women are paid differently for the same job.

“Unfortunately, her well intentioned solution is a flawed approach to solving the wrong problem,” Wetzel said. “It has long been illegal for employers to discriminate financially or otherwise based on one’s gender.”

Wetzel said there is an earning gap that comes from women taking different, lower paid jobs. She says the focus should be on removing barriers that impede women from pursuing various professions.

In a statement, Whitmer said, “This is not just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue that hurts working families… This is about doing what’s right.”

The new directive also calls for the state Civil Service Commission to come up with policies to extend equal pay protections. You can read the whole directive here.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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