Equal Pay Day 2013

Serious Computer Users

Equal Pay Day 2013 is fast approaching. April 9, 2013 is Equal Pay Day. According to 9 to 5, for the first time in many years, the weekly earnings gap is widening for all women. As a result, this year’s Equal Pay Day is even more important than usual. To make real advances in closing the gap, we must strengthen enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws and pass new laws that give women the tools they need to get the pay they deserve.

As stated by 9to 5’s executive director, pay discrimination is a real and persistent problem that continues to shortchange American women and their families. Research indicates that progress on closing the gap has slowed significantly since the 1980s and early 1990s. Women are continuing to earn less than men in every state and region of the country. Since 2001, the gender pay gap has narrowed by only about one percentage point. With that said, it will take another forty-five (45) years for women to earn as much as men.

In 2011, women earned seventy-seven (77) cents for every dollar earned by men. For women of color, the pay gap is even wider. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2011, African-American women earned only sixty-nine (69) cents and Latinas just sixty (60) cents for every dollar earned by all men.
Here are several reasons why the pay gap exists:
1. Women and people of color are overrepresented in undervalued and underpaid occupations such as child care and home health care and waiting tables.
2. Discrimination exists and limits access to opportunities for women in particular women of color. Even when working in male-dominated fields that pay more, such as engineering or computer programming, women often still earn less.
3. Many working women are penalized financially for caregiving at home because they lack access to basic policies like paid sick days and family leave.

Pay inequity not only harms individual women but it also harms their families. And since women make three-quarters of family-purchasing decisions, it means less money is spent in our local economies. Over the course of their professional careers, women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. That means less money to make ends meet and achieve economic security for their loved ones.

Relevant Laws that Support Working Families:

The Healthy Families Act
It would give workers the right to earn paid sick days. No one should fear losing their job because they needed to take a day away from work to care for a sick child or an elderly parent. Especially in this unforgiving economy, we, as a nation, need legislation that helps workers and their families to stay healthy.
“First introduced in 2004 by Congresswoman DeLauro and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Healthy Families Act would enable workers to earn up 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to (7) seven days’ worth of paid leave. Currently, 40 million Americans are without paid sick days, meaning they cannot take time off work should they fall ill or need to care for ailing child or elderly relative. Two-thirds of lower-income private sector workers do not have a single paid sick day, and the percentage is even higher amongst workers in certain industries.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act
The Paycheck Fairness Act would take several steps towards closing the wage gap, including: clarifying acceptable reasons for differences in pay between men and women; prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage policies and their pay rates; making it easier to file class action lawsuits based on equal pay; and requiring the EEOC to survey current pay data and obliging employers to submit pay data identified by race, sex and national origin of employees and empower women to better negotiate salary and benefit increases.

The afore-referenced legislation was introduced in 2009 and then again in 2010. It was defeated by a minority of senators. It was reintroduced in the current Congress in January.

Action Needed:
Help 9 to 5 and other advocacy organizations to make this very necessary change: Contact your elected officials and urge them to support and sign on to the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Women have waited too long for equal wages. We, as a nation, cannot afford to wait any longer. With that said, as aptly stated by Linda Meric, “this Equal Pay Day, let’s fight for fair public policies that value women’s work, honor their contributions to their families and spur a thriving economy.”

Source(s): govtrack.com “On Equal Pay Day, let’s honor women”, Linda Meric, Anchorage Daily News,
April 8, 2013. http://www.adn.com/2013/04/08/2856327/on-equal-pay-day-lets-honor-women.html#storylink=cpy

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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