OPINION: Commemorating Equal Pay Day the Trump way

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MARGIE BRADFORD, Community columnist

President Donald Trump has a unique way of signing the many executive orders that he has signed since taking office. There are officials behind him as he signs with a flourish, then he holds it up to be admired, like a kid showing off his attendance prize.

The executive order he signed March 24 had no public ceremony or flourish at the end. The order that he signed that day, just nine days before Equal Pay Day on April 4, was deeply ironic on several levels.

First let me explain Equal Pay Day and what that has to do with that executive order. Equal Pay Day is the day of the new year that marks the number of days that the average working woman has to work extra to earn as much as the average working man in a year

In 2015, the median income for women working full time was just 80 percent of the median income for a man working full time. This year, that equal pay date was reached on April 4, a full 93 days into 2017.

Mary Emily O’Hara at NBC News said, “Obama’s order was intended to prevent companies that violated federal labor laws from receiving federal contracts. The order banned forced arbitration clauses for sexual discrimination and assault, which are often standard at many employers. It also required federal contractors to provide employees with a statement detailing pay rates, overtime hours and any deductions.”

Now to Trump’s executive order, which he chose not to flourish. According to Jenny Hubley Luckenwaldt, writing for the AOL PayScale blog on April 4, that executive order revoked the Fair Play and Safe Workplaces order signed by President Obama in 2014.

Obama’s order required companies with bidding on contracts in excess of $500,000 to disclose labor violations, including those against protected groups, such as the handicapped, women and LGBTQ workers.

Trump’s revocation of that order wipes out these protections against discrimination

Norma Ferrell, director of the anti-discrimination law firm Equal Rights Advocates, characterized the order as “going on attack against workers and tax-payers.”

Ferrell told NBC News, “We have an executive order that essentially forces women to keep companies in business that discriminate against them, with their own tax dollars.”

Tom Embry-Dennis, writing for the Independent, said, “It was one of the few ways to ensure that women were being paid as much as their male colleagues.”

Now to the deeply ironic part: Candidate Trump declared that he was the champion of the workers of America, and that “nobody respects women more than I do.” Candidate Trump also strongly criticized President Obama for his executive orders, deeming them “very illegal.”

And for the most ironic part of all: Back in 1971 when I was lobbying, in vain, for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, to guarantee that women would not be discriminated against in the workplace, the average pay for women was 72 percent of the average man’s wage. It is now 80 percent that of men.

Luckenwaldt said, “At the rate we are going, it will take 136 years to close the wage gap.”

It seems that President Trump is not going to do anything to help shorten that time frame. So much for that “respect” thing.

And I guess that executive orders aren’t so “illegal” after all.