The Top Hat in downtown Missoula was filled on Monday afternoon by supporters of the Equal Pay for Equal Work issue in Montana.

Democratic State Senator Diane Sands helped to organize the event at the popular eatery in downtown Missoula.

"I've worked on this issue for over 40 years," Sands said. "Governor Steve Bullock is the first governor in my lifetime who has made the equal pay issue a priority. He started by establishing the Equal Pay Task Force and has instituted a number of executive orders around pay inequity. At this point, women earn about 74 cents for every dollar a man makes, and in a lifetime that adds up to over a million dollars. So equal pay is a huge issue."

Sands went on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte on the issue of equal pay for equal work.

"Gianforte has made a statement that he does not support equal pay legislation," she said. "I carried legislation in the last session about paycheck transparency. Many businesses have a policy that you sign that you will not discuss your income and in fact, you can be fired if you discuss what your wage is. We will try to pass that legislation again in the coming session, as it was defeated by the Republicans."

Sands maintains equal pay for equal work is a family issue.

"Many families have to get a second or third job to make up for that missing 25 cents per hour," she said. "It's definitely an issue that affects the community."

KGVO News contacted the Gianforte campaign regarding the claims Sands made about his lack of support for equal pay for equal work.

Gianforte responded; 'This is another hypocritical stunt by career politician Steve Bullock, who failed to get this legislation through the legislature for the last two sessions.'

From Gianforte's campaign spokesman Aaron Flint: 'On top of that, Bullock, as Attorney General, only paid women 72% what he paid men in his office. Plus, if you want to know Bullock's true thoughts on women in the workforce- look no further than his poor treatment of his female Lt Governor Angela McLean. Bullock locked her out of her Twitter account before eventually forcing her out of office.'

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