Today is Equal Pay Day 2017 – the day that marks the appalling fact that it takes 15 months for women to be paid what men are paid in a year. It takes mothers and women of color even longer. That's just shameful.
And while we find the very need for Equal Pay Day incredibly frustrating, we are at the same time inspired that Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rosa DeLauro persist in their efforts to close the gender wage gap and have chosen today to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would go a long way toward eliminating the wage gap, giving everyone a chance to succeed and bolstering our economy by boosting working families. This crucial legislation would: deter wage discrimination by strengthening penalties for equal pay violations and by prohibiting retaliation against workers who ask about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages; empower women to negotiate for equal pay; strengthen federal outreach, education and enforcement efforts; and create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is needed because it has been more than 50 years since the Equal Pay Act became law and women are only earning, on average, 80 cents to every dollar paid to white men. The wage gap is even greater for women of color. African American women are paid just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men; Native American women just 58 cents; Latinas just 54 cents; and Asian-American women just 85 cents, with some Asian-American subgroups paid much less.
Mothers face even bigger hits: African American mothers earn 51 cents, Native mothers earn 49 cents and Hispanic mothers earn just 46 cents on the dollar compared to white, non-Hispanic fathers.
At a time when moms are often the primary or only breadwinners for their families, this persistent wage discrimination is devastating to our nation’s families, businesses and our consumer-driven economy because moms also make most of the purchases for their families.
That’s why we are so pleased that the Paycheck Fairness Act is being reintroduced in Congress today and we expect tens of thousands of MomsRising members to sign an open letter calling on state and federal lawmakers to end unfair pay by championing policies proven to help close the wage gap and boost our national economy: paycheck and workplace fairness; paid family and medical leave; affordable, high-quality early learning and childcare opportunities; earned sick days; and raising the minimum wage.
“Solutions really are possible. We can close the wage gap. Momentum is growing for these policies. But we need action now. Change begins with Congress passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and lawmakers and employers around the country taking steps to make wages fair. If they do, perhaps this will be the last Equal Pay Day we have to acknowledge.