by Max Brantley
Sen. Gilbert Baker, Republican, Conway, comes out for equal pay for equal work. Bully for him. I don't suppose this has anything to do with the tendency of women to vote more often than men; the unacceptability of much of his core beliefs to many women voters, particularly in well-educated Conway, and the heavily female work force at some major public employers in his district. Or maybe I misunderestimate the female voters of Faulkner County.
Note to the veteran senator: Disparity of pay between men and women in state government didn't suddenly get discovered this year.
UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder will join Baker's Democratic opponent, Joe White, at a rally at 4:30 p.m. today at Faulkner County Democratic HQ, 805 Harkrider.
UPDATE II: White issues a news relese noting that Baker voted against the Equal Rights Amendment. It's a pretty good nailing for Baker's pandering. Back in 2005, Baker said he saw no need for the ERA because he could see no area where women were treated unequally.
GILBERT BAKER NEWS RELEASE
State employees are the backbone of our state government. They are the frontline of service to the people of this great state.
Senate District 30, which includes most of Faulkner County, is home to many state employees and several state service entities. There are many issues relating to our state employees that will need to be dealt with in the next session of the general assembly. The proposed new pay plan, the funding of the plan, health insurance and pay disparity between men and women are some of the issues that must be considered. If re-elected, Sen. Baker will have the seniority in the Senate and specifically, on the joint budget committee, to deal with issues important to our state employees.
During Town Hall meetings held by Senator Baker in August, the issue of gender pay disparity in state government was brought up. Sen. Baker committed at that time to use his position on the budget committee and the personnel committee to study and address any pay disparity based on gender among state employees. Baker said, “The issue of pay for women in state government was obviously a concern based on what we have heard around the district. It is an issue that I take seriously and will deal with in the next session. State government should set the example in equal pay for equal work.”
JOE WHITE NEWS RELEASE
Conway, AR – Senator and former Republican Party Chairman Gilbert Baker today released a statement expressing support for eliminating gender disparities and supporting equal pay for equal work. But in 2005 Senator Baker expressed disdain for correcting disparities between men and women and voted against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.
"I'm glad to see that Senator Baker has changed his position on this important issue just in time for this election," White campaign manager Alex Bissell said. "Senator Baker says he now supports equal pay for equal work, but the fact is that in 2005 he voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, and in his comments seemed unable to recognize the disparities between women and men. The women of Faulkner County deserve a Senator who will work with them to solve the issues they face, not just pander to them in an election year. Women voters in Faulkner County are smarter than that."
In 2005, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette provided coverage of then Chairman Baker's vote against the ERA and his lack of focus on women's issues: "Baker said he had no idea the amendment was coming before the committee when he decided to vote against it. 'I thought the whole ERA-change-the-Constitution thing was done a long time ago,' Baker said. 'The fact that we're trying to bring up that whole debate seemed fairly strange to me.' He said he might change his mind if somebody could point to a specific slight or some issue where women had unequal rights. 'But to change the Constitution for the sake of making a statement – we just don't need to go there,' he said." [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 3/27/08