March 24th Was Equal Pay Day, the Day Women Catch Up with What Men Made in the Previous Year
This past Wednesday, March 24th, was Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day is a reminder of the work that remains to advance equity and ensure that all Americans can reach their full potential. Equal Pay Day was established in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity. This year marks the 25th year the occasion has been observed, but in 25 years, the pay gap Has shrunk by just eight cents. This day is symbolic of how far into this year women must work to catch up to what men made in the previous year.
Women earn 82% of men’s annual earnings on average, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The wage gap is even wider for Black and Latina women. It’s a day that calls us to action, to renew our commitment to the basic ideal of equity and equal opportunity that define us as Americans. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, it’s important that the wage gap for women also closes. The best way we know so far to close that gap is found in the labor movement. As the Economic Policy Institute has written, “Unions have been proven to provide women with higher wages and better benefits. … Unions provide a boost to women regardless of their race or ethnicity. The gender wage gap is significantly smaller among both white and black unionized workers than their nonunion counterparts.”
Our very own Vice President Region D (San Francisco) Theresa Rutherford shared her thoughts on Equal Pay Day: “You know women have always been behind although we are key leaders, and we are on par with men. It reflects the misogynistic nature of this country, it speaks to slavery, it speaks to the unequal nature of society and it speaks to the idea that there is this constant narrative that one group of us must be less than the other. So, as we see racism, we see patriarchy and we see all of it together as language of the misinformed. We understand they are tied together. So as a union, as women in society, as women who know that we are leaders, we must stand up and fight to let our voices be heard against this narrative. I think it’s important! March 24th being Equal Pay Day highlights the problem and so it is a start and a catalyst to then creating the real work and getting it done, which is to remove this unnatural divide.”