Tuesday, April 28 was Equal Pay Day, a day not to be celebrated, but rather observed. That date was designated because it marks the point in 2009 when the average woman’s wages finally catch up with those paid to the average man in 2008. Women overall still make only 78¢ for every dollar earned by men. Forty-six years after the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, the wage gap has closed only 19¢ - a rate of less than half a penny a year! And for women of color, the numbers are even worse. African-American women earn 62¢ and Latinas earn 53¢ for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.
Here at OWL, we know that fair and equitable pay is the foundation for economic security later in life. After all, you can’t save what you don’t earn.
You may remember that President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in January, ending a long lobbying effort by OWL and many other hard-working organizations. This was a great victory for equal pay, but it was only step one! The Paycheck Fairness Act, the next step of the fight for fair pay, has been passed in the House but still need to be passed by the Senate.
Why do we need both bills? They each play different roles in the fight for fair pay. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act corrected a Supreme Court decision and affirmed that each time a worker receives an inequitable paycheck it is an act of discrimination and a violation of the law. It ensures that victims of discrimination have the right to fight back and seek compensation. The Paycheck Fairness Act, on the other hand, would amend and fortify the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by prohibiting employer retaliation, strengthen penalties for discrimination, and closing loopholes that employers use to get out of paying penalties.
TAKE ACTION! Call your Senators and urge them to support The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182). Let them know that it is unacceptable that women are still earning only 78 for every dollar earned by men!