Why don't bosses want us talking about our pay?

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans unanimously blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act and upheld a boss's right to punish workers for talking about unfair pay practices. And, the corporate masters are happy that their “pay secrecy” rules are still in place. The Paycheck Fairness Act would have protected workers from discussing salaries, and make it easier for them to challenge wage discrimination in court. That legislation would have also shifted the burden of proof to employers, who would have had to “prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate, job-related reasons.” However, our current system requires a worker to prove that lower pay wasn't legitimate.

Many bosses claim that pay secrecy rules protect “trade secrets,” and prevent “jealousies and strife among employees.” But, keeping workers complacent and obedient is the real reason many corporate bosses love these policies. As Michelle Chen of In These Times Magazine writes, “if workers really knew what their bosses were doing, their anger would start to unravel the complacency.” In other words, when workers know they're being cheated, they are empowered to stand up and fight back.

Senate Republicans didn't block this legislation to protect jobs or deny the existence of a gender pay gap, they simply voted once again to put corporate interests ahead of the American people. If employees are being paid fairly, bosses should have nothing to fear about them discussing their salaries. The fact that these conversations are prohibited is just another attempt to keep power out of the hands of workers.

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