By Norma Williamson , M.Ed.
For the Event-News Enterprise
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is asking the community at large to join us in advocating for the passage of H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act on behalf of American working women. For 24 years, AAUW has actively advocated and lobbied for passage of this bill. Now more than ever, American women need to receive equal pay for equal work.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated income inequalities as demonstrated by the massive historical unemployment rates affecting American women today. The AAUW 2020 report entitled “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap” states that “Between February and April 2020, women’s unemployment rate rose by 12.8% compared to 9.9% for men.” This has resulted in a “shecession” (a term coined by C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D. of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research) an economic downturn where 11.5 million women lost their jobs as compared to 9 million men who lost their jobs during the months of February through May 2020. Then in the months of August and September 2020, an additional 865,000 women were cut from the payrolls – 4 times the number of men seeking employment.
Throughout the years, research study after research study has documented the paycheck disparity between men and women for jobs of equal responsibilities. A full-time working woman earns 82 cents to a man’s dollar and women of color are paid even less: Black women make 62 cents on the dollar and Latinas make 54 cents on the dollar. Even as college graduates with advanced degrees, women still make less than their male counterparts. “At the current rate, the overall pay gap between men’s and women’s earnings will not close until 2093 and it will take significantly longer for women of color to reach parity” (The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap Report, Fall, 2020).
H.R.7, the Paycheck Fairness Act closes the loopholes of the 1963 Equal Pay Act by protecting workers’ rights to formally and informally discuss salary scales at their place of work without negative repercussions from employers, prohibiting employers’ retaliation against workers who raise questions and concerns about wage differences, requiring employers to prove that their salary scales do not discriminate based on gender, prohibiting the use of prior work salary history for setting the pay scale for new hires, allowing workers to sue employers for discriminatory wages based on gender and finally mandating training sessions for women to acquire the necessary skills to successfully negotiate higher wages.
Join us this March 24th of this year, as we observe Equal Pay Day. Since 1996, women’s rights organizations have commemorated Equal Pay Day by wearing red to mark the struggle of women for equality and, more importantly, women have engaged in lobbying their state and national legislators for equal pay. This date symbolizes how far into the next year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year.
On March 24th, in spite of Covid-19 restrictions, a few La Palma-Cerritos AAUW members will be participating in virtual meetings with Congressional representatives to give voice to the millions of women struggling to provide for their families by urging legislators to vote for H.R.7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. Twenty-four years is long enough!
The La Palma-Cerritos AAUW Branch asks interested community members to contact their Congressional Representative, Linda Sanchez at: https://lindasanchez.house.gov/contact and urge her to vote for H.R.7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. To petition a different congressperson visit the AAUW website at https://www.aauw.org/resources/policy/pfa-toolkit/.For more information, contact Norma Williamson, AAUW La Palma-Cerritos Branch Public Policy Co-Chair at email@example.com.