For the last three years, my local NOW chapter—Ni-Ta-Nee NOW—has organized community education events surrounding Equal Pay Day and paycheck fairness. We have focused on this issue because of the continuing inequity in women’s wages as compared to the male coworkers.
A frequent question we have is, “What’s Equal Pay Day and why should I care?” To help answer that question, we have done op-eds and interviews with the local press in the past (See here and here). We also create a flyer that we update each year. As President of Pennsylvania NOW, I wrote another blog on this issue in 2011. And last year, I commented on Equal Pay Day 2014 as well as the need for fairness in pay.
Like last year, my local NOW chapter will once again be distributing Equal Pay Day flyers in front of the gates of The Pennsylvania State University during the afternoon.
Why today? Because Equal Pay Day moves from year to year. For 2015, that day is today, April 14.
The following is a web-based version of this flyer updated from 2014 to reflect today’s stats and information. The hard-copy version focuses on Pennsylvania. I have kept that information here and added additional commentary and links for information and contacts in other states.
TUESDAY APRIL 14, 2015 is EQUAL PAY DAY
IT’S THE DAY ON WHICH WOMEN’S WAGES CATCH UP WITH MEN’S WAGES FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.
The wage gap is the ratio of women’s to men’s median annual earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Based on these earnings, women across the US earned just 83% of what men earned (IWPR, 2015).
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. Tuesday, April 14, 2015 is the day on which women’s wages catch up with men’s wages from the previous year. FYI, this is 6 days more than 2014, 5 days more than in 2013 and 1 day more than in 2011 when Ni-Ta-Nee NOW started tracking this date!
At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that it will be 2058 before women’s wages reach parity and Equal Pay Day will finally be on December 31 rather than somewhere in April of the following year!
THE WAGE GAP
Equal Pay Day: How Women Fare
Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 94 percent of what the average white man earned in 2012. White women are next, earning approximately 82 percent of white men’s average income, African-American women (68 percent), and Hispanic women (61 percent) have the largest wage gaps as compared to white men (IWPR, 2015). A typical woman earns $431,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. (Center for American Progress, 2012).
THE WAGE GAP IN PENNSYLVANIA
The wage gap is even worse in Pennsylvania. When ranked among the other 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed it 40th among the states (AAUW, 2015).
The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year round in Pennsylvania in 2014 was $38,368 compared to men’s $50,231 or 76% of what a man earns. This is a wage gap of 22 % (AAUW, 2015).
Centre County is part of Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District (CD). Women in the 5th CD earn $31,615 compared to the $42,782 that men earn or 74% of what a man earns. We rank 15 out of 18 in the state in terms of the wage gap. This is a wage gap of 26%. Philadelphia’s 1st CD fares better than the rest of the state with a gap of just 1% (AAUW, 2015).
A typical woman in PA earns $459,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. This gap rises to $722,000 for women who have earned college degrees (Center for American Progress, 2010).
WHAT CAN I DO??
If You are an Employer
If you are an employer, you can get help in examining pay practices by conducting an equal pay self-audit using the guidelines from the US Department of Labor (available at www.pay-equity.org/cando-audit.html).
If You Believe You Are Experiencing Wage-Based Discrimination
Tell your employer if you are being paid less than your male co-workers. Click here for some tips on negotiating for pay equity.
If there’s a union at your place of work, ask for their help.
If discrimination persists: There are three places to file complaints – at the federal level, at the state level, and at the local level.
At the Federal Level
You can file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Go to this link and follow the instructions.
At the State Level
You can find your state’s anti-discrimination agency website and contact information in a pdf file created by Legal Momentum starting on page 28. Most of the agencies have a website address that you can copy and paste into your browser. All of the agencies have a phone number that you can call for assistance.
If you live in Pennsylvania, you can file a complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg. Contact information is available by region. Just go to their website and look for your county’s name. The phone number and address for your regional office is listed directly above the names of the counties served by each office.
You should also check to see if your local county, city, or community has an ordinance providing similar protections for wage-based discrimination. You can also file under federal law with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
At the Local Level
There are a few communities throughout the country that have created local ordinances that include the state-based anti-discrimination protections and have also expanded coverage to other areas (such as protections based on sexual orientation, family status, and/or family responsibilities across the life-span). If so, you can more conveniently file a wage-based complaint at the local level. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination agency to see if there is a local ordinance in your community.
In Pennsylvania, there are about 30 communities with such an ordinance. Your regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission can give you this information, along with whom to contact. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination office if you live in another state to determine if your state allows such local ordinances and if such an ordinance exists in your community.
As I just stated, there are about 30 communities in Pennsylvania that have such a local ordinance. One of the most progressive and expansive ordinances is in State College, PA, home of the main campus of The Pennsylvania State University. Their ordinance covers wage-based discrimination based on sex as well as color (race), religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids. Four of these categories – sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status and family responsibilities across the lifespan, and marital status—are not covered under state law. State College is the only locality in Pennsylvania (and one of only a handful nationwide) that protects you in employment if you have family responsibilities for adult members of your family whether or not they live in the home with you. If you work within the State College, PA borough, you can file a complaint with the State College Borough under their Employment Anti-Discrimination Ordinance at 814.234.7110814.234.7110 (Side note: I was one of the people instrumental in crafting this ordinance).
If You Want to Support and Advocate for Pay Equity
Both the federal and many state legislatures are attempting to address the issue of pay equity.
The following summarizes the current status of the bills currently moving through Congress and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
The Federal Paycheck Fairness Act
Ask your Congressional representatives to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act – HR 1619 in the US House of Representatives and both S 83—the Republican version entitled “End Pay Discrimination Through Information Act”— and S 862 —the”Paycheck Fairness Act” identical to the House version—in the US Senate). These bills update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It gives women the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself. HR 1619 was introduced by Rep. DeLaura (D-CT-3) on March 25, 2015 and currently has 190 sponsors; S 83 was introduced by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) on January 7, 2015 and has five sponsors; and S 862 was introduced on March 25, 2015 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and currently has 25 sponsors.
Another method of reducing pay inequity is to raise the minimum wage since women are more likely to work in jobs paying either the minimum wage or work for tipped wages. If you are among the 75% of Americans who believe the minimum wage should be raised to at least $12.50/hour, you should take action. So…
Tell your state & federal legislators to raise the minimum wage & the tipped minimum wage. The minimum wage bill at the federal level is called “The Original Living Wage Act of 2015 (HR 122). It was introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX-9) on January 6, 2015 and currently has 19 sponsors.
Since states and local communities can set minimum wages higher than that required by the federal government, you might also advocate for higher minimum wages for all workers in your state and/or community.
At the state level, California (SB 3), Colorado (House Concurrent Resolution 1001 and House Bill 1300), Connecticut (S.B. 858), Delaware, Illinois, Maine (L.D. 843), Massachusetts (SD 852/HD 2835), New York, Oregon (H.B. 2009), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (H.B. 5074), and Washington state (H.B. 1355) either have bills introduced (links to these bills are shown here) or there have been campaigns initiated in the state to advocate for raising the minimum wage to either phase out the lower tipped minimum wage and/or to raise the overall minimum wage to at least $10.00/hour. Some of these bills and/or advocates urge raising the minimum wage up to $15.50/hour in high cost cities within their state. Links to all of these campaigns can be found at http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/campaigns/.
At the local level, the first community to raise the minimum wage to $15.00/hour (more than double the current federal minimum wage which hasn’t risen in over a decade) was SeaTac, Washington; this new wage went into effect on January 1, 2014. After nine months of this higher minimum wage, the Washington Post reported that those that had originally opposed this increase admit that “there has been no calamity so far.” Since then, both Seattle and San Fransisco increased wages in 2014 in their cities to $15.00/hour; Washington, DC is considering doing the same thing.
For more information on the raising concerns about the minimum wage and what you can do, go to RaiseTheMinimumWage.com.
Finally…For More Information
Visit http://www.pay-equity.org – the website created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). NCPE is a coalition of “women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals.” They are dedicated to ending wage-based discrimination and achieving pay equity.