Equal pay for equal work in Oregon
Today is Equal Pay Day, the day in 2015 when women finally catch up to what men earned the previous year.
It takes women over 15 months of work to earn what men get paid in 12 months. This session we've started to remedy this long-standing problem that shortchanges Oregon women and the families who depend on them, but there's still much work to do.
Nationally, women are paid on average just 78 cents for every dollar a man makes, and for women of color the wage gap is much worse: 64 cents for African American women and only 56 cents for Latinas.
The wage gap is caused by multiple factors. Women face gender discrimination, penalties for caregiving responsibilities, and are more likely to work in low-wage, pink-collar jobs. Women still do the lion's share of caregiving in our country and any time they take time off of work to give birth, care for an aging parent, recover from the flu, or care for a sick child compromises their ability to remain employed or to get a raise or promotion.
Women are breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American households, which means that wage gaps have real consequences for Oregon families. When women are paid less than men, families across the state pay a heavy price.
Right now, there are active proposals in the legislature to help close the wage gap. These bills would give all workers sick time, help families to save for retirement, allow workers to share their salary information without penalty, and raise wages for the women and families living in poverty. All of these would help ensure that women can both provide for and care for their families.
We can no longer let the wage gap, and its causes, hold back women and families in our state through our collective inaction. We must pass modern workplace policies that will catch us up to the rest of the world and push us to reduce inequality.
It won’t be easy, but over 50 years since president John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, we have the power to give women and families a fair shot at economic opportunity and success.