Women get unequal pay for equal work

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(NNPA)—When John and Ann started working on Jan. 1, 2013, John had an immediate advantage. Because women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, it took Ann until last Friday [April 11, 2014] to earn the same amount of money that John earned in the calendar year of 2013.

The issue of unequal pay is so important that President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago. While we have come a long way, baby, the pay gap has remained stubborn. This is why President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act as soon as he assumed office.

This year, to commemorate National Equal Pay Day (that’s the day Ann finally earns as much as John), the president signed an Executive Order protecting workers from retaliation when they speak of unequal pay in the workplace (one of the ways employers can maintain unequal pay is to make discussing pay grounds for firing). The president, through the Secretary of Labor, is also requiring federal contractors to provide data on pay, race, and gender to ensure that employers are fairly paid. Furthermore, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which may pass the Senate, but not the House of Representatives.

We know all about John and Ann, but what about Tamika? If women earn 77 percent of what men earn, what about African-American women? Women surely have come a long way, but some are moving far more slowly than others. How many African-American women are there in the Senate? Among Fortune 500 leaders? In other positions of power? What about pay? African-American women earn about three quarters of what other women earn, meaning that if it takes Ann until April 11 to catch up with John, It will take Tamika until about June 1—about another six weeks—to catch up. Tamika earns in 18 months what John earns in 12 months.

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