A group of protesters staged a demonstration at Democrat Ted Strickland’s campaign office Tuesday to call attention to the former Ohio governor’s record on equal pay for equal work.
The protesters pointed to figures from 2010 showing that women employed by the state of Ohio were paid less than men, especially in top-level jobs, during Strickland’s tenure as governor.
Strickland, who is running to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate, also appointed significantly more men than women to boards and commissions during his four years in office.
About 15 people waved signs outside the Strickland campaign’s Columbus office Tuesday morning as part of a protest organized by the Republican National Committee on "Equal Pay Day."
According to a 2010 analysis by the Columbus Dispatch, women employed by the state of Ohio earned $2.17 per hour less than their male counterparts on average during Strickland’s final year in office, and some in administrative positions were paid as much as $9.41 per hour less. While the overall pay disparity between female and male state employees shrank by about 50 cents during Strickland’s tenure, the 20 percent pay disparity for women in top-level state roles persisted in 2010.
Additionally, the analysis showed that between 2007 and 2010, Strickland appointed 1,725 individuals to boards and commissions, 37 percent of whom were women. Strickland gave roughly 450 more appointments to men.
Strickland’s Senate campaign also employs more men than women. According to a Free Beacon review of Federal Election Commission records, Strickland for Senate has paid out salaries to 19 individuals since last April, six of whom are women. Strickland’s fundraiser, the second-highest paid female staffer, quit last November.
Strickland has made fighting for equal pay and closing the "gender gap" a staple of his campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R.).
Protesters outside the campaign office held signs advertising the $2.17 hourly pay disparity and Ohio’s loss of 350,000 jobs under the Strickland administration. Some also displayed signs promoting "Women for Portman," a women’s group working to reelect the Republican senator that Ann Romney helped launch last year.
Strickland’s website identifies pay disparity between men and women as "one of the big problems holding working families back." Strickland says he supports the Paycheck Fairness Act and criticizes Portman for voting against it as a senator.
While Democrats such as Hillary Clinton have lined up to show support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, some have argued that it would discourage businesses from hiring women and fail to expediently correct situations where women are not receiving equal pay for equal work.
"Proposals like the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is promoted under the banner of helping women, could also backfire on women," policy experts wrote in an economic report released by the nonprofit Independent Women’s Forum on Tuesday.
"By increasing the likelihood of class action lawsuits and burdening businesses with increased litigation costs, employers would have a reason to hire fewer workers, particularly women, who create greater risks of litigation. Sadly, increasing the number of class action lawsuits, which often take 7 to 10 years for litigation to unfold, would do little to correct situations where women may not be receiving equal pay for equal work."
Like Clinton, Strickland also supports raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour at the federal level and has applauded communities that have instituted minimum wages higher than that. Carrie Lukas, the lead author of the report released Tuesday, told the Free Beacon that a minimum wage hike would force businesses to cut jobs, reduce benefits, or find other ways to compensate for increased employment costs, which would hurt women in the workforce.
Clinton, a Strickland ally, has also come under fire for paying women less. Clinton’s Senate office and the Clinton Foundation both paid women less than men. President Obama’s White House has also been found to short-change female employees.
The Strickland campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time.