ESCANABA - Tuesday will mark the 2010 celebration of Equal Pay Day. As declared by the Coalition of Labor Union Women and the National Committee on Pay Equity.
AAUW-Escanaba Area Branch representatives Kathleen Bennett and Nancy Winneroski met at Escanaba City Hall Thursday, in advance of the City Council meeting at which Escanaba Mayor Gilbert Cheves read an Equal Pay for Equal Work Proclamation for AAUW. The proclamation was prepared in honor of Pay Equity Day, which will be recognized Tuesday. Also present for the reading was City Councilwoman and AAUW-Escanaba member Patricia Baribeau, along with the remainder of the council members.
Equal Pay Day is observed each April as an indicator of how far into each year a woman must work in order to receive pay equal to that which a man would have earned doing the same job during the previous year. Tuesday is symbolic of the day when women's wages become equivalent to men's wages from the week prior. For women of color, the discrepancy between the genders is even greater.
Jillian Jamison | Daily Press
In recognition of Pay Equity Day, which will be recognized Tuesday, AAUW-Escanaba Area Branch members Kathleen Bennett, left, and Nancy Winneroski meet with Escanaba Mayor Gilbert Cheves. Prior to the start of Escanaba City Council’s regular Thursday meeting, Cheves read the Equal Work for Equal Pay Proclamation.
Forty-seven years after Equal Pay Day became law (1963), women continue to earn less money than men for doing the same jobs, and after attaining the same or similar education, skills and experience. This is according to the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW).
CLUW continues to seek passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Employee Free Choice Act based on certain specific data. For example, 2008 Census statistics showed the ratio of women's and men's median annual earnings to stand at 77.8 cents on the dollar. This wage gap is partly due to the fact that women and people of color continue to be segregated into a narrow field of low-paying jobs.
The latest newsletter by CLUW, published April 5, presents the following findings: "More than half of all women workers hold sales, clerical and service jobs. Studies show that the more an occupation is dominated by women or people of color, the less it pays." The report goes on to say, "Part of the wage gap results from differences in education, experience or time in the workforce. But a significant portion cannot be explained by any of those factors; it is attributable to discrimination. In other words, certain jobs pay less because they are held by women and people of color."
At the current rate, it will take 50 years to close the wage gap between women/people of color and men, nationwide. Statistically, this means that women, on average, earn $9,575 less per year than they would earn if they were male and holding the same position. When looking ahead to retirement pensions and Social Security benefits, the income disparity between males and females equates to women having to work a significant number of years more than men. Working women, therefore, lose out on the number of non-working years that remain in their lifetime, in addition to the discrepancy in wages - at present, at least 23 percent.
As an antidote to inequity in the workplace, Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. With the (Lilly Ledbetter) Fair Pay Restoration Act having been signed into law by President Obama Jan. 29, 2009, women were given effective equal pay protections and safeguard against retaliation for disclosure of wages. Now, in order to lend strength to this act, AAUW supports CLUW's push to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act. This act would strengthen current protection against pay discrimination. It would also allow women to receive the same solutions to sex-based pay discrimination as those available to workers subject to racial and ethnic discrimination.
Citizens interested in sending a message of support for the Paycheck Fairness Act are encouraged by AAUW to contact their Senate office by phone, (202) 224-3121.
On behalf of AAUW-Escanaba Branch, Gladstone City Council and Delta County Board of Commissioners also issued Pay Equity Proclamations.
AAUW is advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.