Minnesota state Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R) last week said that legislation to address equal pay and sick leave does not actually help women in the workplace, the Huffington Post reported.
“We heard several bills last week about women’s issues and I kept thinking to myself, these bills are putting us backwards in time,” Kieffer said at a hearing on a bill to address the gender pay gap, according to an audio recording posted by the Alliance for a Better Minnesota. “We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women and almost making us look like whiners.”
Kieffer was speaking during a hearing on the Women’s Economic Security Act, which would raise the minimum wage to $9.50, expand access to paid sick leave and childcare and protect women from discrimination and unfair pay. The legislative package would also improve protections for domestic violence victims.
Supporters of the package of bills expect them to pass in both chambers of the Democrat-controlled Minnesota legislature, according to the Huffington Post.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (D) criticized Kieffer’s comments in an email statement to the Huffington Post.
“Too often women are branded as ‘whiners’ when they challenge unfairness in our laws and society. I would bet a lot people said Susan B. Anthony was a whiner when she fought for the right to vote,” she said. “The reality is that women in Minnesota and throughout our country face unique economic barriers and everyone deserves a fair chance at success.”
Republican women leaders in Texas also recently criticized efforts to address the gender pay gap through legislation in that state.
Cari Cristman, the executive director of the conservative Red State Women PAC, said Sunday that women are too “busy” to push for equal pay legislation. Beth Cubriel, executive director of the Texas Republican Party, said Monday evening that women just need to follow the lead of men who “negotiate better” for their salaries.