On April 9, I did a blog on Equal Pay Day discussing the lack of equity in pay between men and women’s work. In that blog, I discussed the need to pass the federal Paycheck Fairness Act.
Part of the process of obtaining passage of a bill is to get as many legislators as possible to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill you are interested in. In the US House of Representatives, there are currently 206 co-sponsors of the House version of the bill – H.R. 377. In the US Senate, there are currently 46 co-sponsors of the Senate version, S. 84.
The main coalition pushing for paycheck fairness and pay equity is the National Committee on Pay Equity. This morning, I opened up an email from a listserv I’m on regarding the Paycheck Fairness Act. Michele Leber, Chair of the National Committee on Pay Equity sent out the following message, asking everyone to spread the word to their friends and colleagues in Virginia. Here’s what she said:
“We learned yesterday [April 24] from the office of Rosa DeLauro, our pay equity champion in the House of Representatives, that every Democrat in the House is now a PFA cosponsor! To reach that goal in the Senate, we need just a few more Democrats, among them Mark Warner of Virginia.
At a meeting yesterday in Warner’s office, his legislative aide said the best way to get Warner’s cosponsorship was to send the senator messages of support for the bill. So please rally any contacts, groups, or chapters that you have in Virginia, asking persons to contact Sen. Warner’s office by phone at 202-224-2023 and/or by e-mail at http://www.warner.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?p=ContactPage, asking him to cosponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act, S.84.
With the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act coming up on June 10, this is particularly important now.”
If you live in Virginia and are a constituent, please follow Michelle’s request and contact Senator Warner regarding co-sponsorship.
If you don’t live in Virginia, you can find out where your US legislators stand on the Paycheck Fairness Act by going to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php. In the search box in the middle of the page, type in “Paycheck Fairness Act” and click search. On the next page, two bills will show up—S. 84 and H.R. 377. This page provides several links to information about both of these bills—text, bill history, co-sponsors, etc. If you click on “cosponsors” for each bill, you can determine if your representatives are publicly supporting the bill or not. If they are a sponsor, thank them and then ask them to call for a hearing and vote on the bill. If they are not, ask them to sign on.
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.
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 (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 elsewhere on my blog site, I have commented on the need for fairness in pay.
Today, we will once again be distributing Equal Pay Day flyers in front of the gates of The Pennsylvania State University over the dinner hour today.
Why today? Because Equal Pay Day moves from year to year. For 2013, that day is April 9.
The following is a web-based version of this flyer. The hard-copy version focuses on Pennsylvania. I have kept that information here; I’ve also added commentary and links for information and contacts in other states.
TUESDAY APRIL 9TH 2013
EQUAL PAY DAY
IT’S THE DAY ON WHICH WOMEN’S WAGES CATCH UP WITH MEN’S WAGES FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR.
Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work full-time, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. In 2013, it took 2 days MORE than in 2011 and 8 days LESS than in 2012 for a woman to earn as much as a man earned in the entire year.
THE WAGE GAP
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 earned just 82% of what men earned (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013).
Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 88% of what the average white man earned in 2012. White women are next, earning approximately 81% of white men’s average income. African-American women (68%) and Hispanic women (59%) have the largest wage gaps compared to white men (Institute for Women’s Policy Research, March 2013).
A typical woman earns $431,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. (Center for American Progress, 2012)
At the current rate of progress, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that it will be 2057 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 is just as bad, if not worse, in our state. When ranked among the other 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed it 34th (Women’s Law Center calculation based on American Community Survey Briefs, April 2013). You can look up your state’s pay equity ranking at this site as well if you don’t live in Pennsylvania.
The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year round in Pennsylvania in 2011 was $37,089, compared to men’s $47,956. This is a wage gap of 77% (Women’s Law Center calculation based on American Community Survey Briefs, April 2013). 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, 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 Pennsylvania 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.
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).
You should therefore check to see if your local county, city, or community has an ordinance providing similar protections for wage-based discrimination. If so, you can more conveniently file a wage-based complaint at the local level. Check with your state’s anti-discrimination agency (see info above under “At the State Level”) 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.
One of these 30 communities in Pennsylvania is State College, PA, where the main campus of The Pennsylvania State University is located. 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. If you work within the State College, PA borough, you can file a complaint with them under their Employment Anti-Discrimination Ordinance at 814.234.7110 (Side note: I was one of the people instrumental in crafting this ordinance).
Supporting and Advocating for Paycheck Fairness
Ask your Congressional representatives to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act – HR 377 in the US House of Representatives and S 84 in the US Senate). The Paycheck Fairness Act updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It gives women the tools they need to challenge the wage gap itself.
You can find out where your representatives stand on the Paycheck Fairness Act by going to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php. In the search box in the middle of the page, type in “Paycheck Fairness Act” and click search. On the next page, two bills will show up—SR 84 and HR 377. This page provides several links to information about both of these bills—text, bill history, co-sponsors, etc. If you click on “cosponsors” for each bill, you can determine if your representatives are publicly supporting the bill or not. If they are a sponsor, thank them and then ask them to call for a hearing on vote on the bill. If they are not, ask them to sign on.
And 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. If you like what they are doing, you can join and become a member.