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Janet Murguia's picture

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Today is Equal Pay Day, which marks the end of the catch-up game women in the United States involuntarily play every year. But unlike most games, there is no grand prize. Instead, women receive a brutal reminder that it takes from all of 2011 until April 2012 —more than 100 days since the beginning of the year — for our wages to finally match what men earned in just 2011. No, it’s not that we’ve been paid late — it’s that we’ve been paid less, shortchanged an average 23 cents for each dollar earned by our male counterparts in the same jobs, according to latest U.S. Census Bureau data. The wage hole is even greater for Latinas: compared to each dollar earned by the average White male, a Hispanic woman makes 60 cents.

It is in honor of these women — their hard work, their commitment to their families, and their struggle for justice in the workplace — that the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is proud to work with MomsRising to unveil this blog carnival on Latinas and Equal Pay Day. My hope is that this blog carnival will help bring attention to an issue that needs more visibility: the multiple challenges that plague workers in the low-wage labor market. After all, equal pay for equal work is only one obstacle. Low wages, unpaid wages, no health insurance, dangerous working conditions, unpredictable schedules, sexual harassment, discrimination — these are daily realities that threaten the economic security of millions of women, their families, and the communities in which they live.

Just ask Juana, who earned $7.50 an hour as a cook, but received no benefits or paid leave, and was never paid on time. As a result, her unpaid wages of nearly $3,000 forced Juana to move her family and rely on the part-time wages of her two teenage sons. With more Latinas in the workforce like Juana acting as their family breadwinners, it is inexcusable that Latinas experience one of the highest poverty rates of women in the labor force at 12.1%. Businesses that fail to compensate an employee fairly or offer a minimum wage means unpaid bills, unstable households, and more hungry children. And the less money workers bring home, the less money they have to spend at local businesses still trying to recover from the economic downturn.

The posts that follow give voice to workers like Juana, as well as a rich cross section of advocates and allies who showcase where progress is being made and what remains to be done. Policies such as the “WAGES Act”, which would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.13 to $5.50 an hour, stronger investments in federal labor protections, and comprehensive immigration reform are part of the blueprint for action. Please read, comment, and share these posts with your family, friends, and neighbors.

Thank you!

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