(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—In its continuing efforts to seek economic justice for all federal employees and in observance of Equal Pay Day—April 16—the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is urging Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 77 and H.R. 781).
Exacerbating the current pay gap between comparable jobs in the federal and private sectors, working women and minorities are paid less for doing the same job as their male counterparts. In 2001, a woman earned 73 cents for every dollar made by her male colleagues—the same as in 1998. African-American and Latino women fare even worse, with African-American women making only 65 percent of the salary of their white male counterparts and Latino women making only 52 percent.
Over a lifetime of work, that 27 cents adds up. The average 25-year-old working woman will lose more than $523,000 to unequal pay during her working life. And because women are paid less now, they have less to save for their futures and will earn smaller pensions than men. Working families suffer when women are underpaid. This penalty further aggravates losses due to the existing pay gap between federal and private sector salaries.
The Paycheck Fairness Act introduced by Senator Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) strengthens penalties courts may impose for equal pay violations and prohibits retaliation against workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage practices. H.R. 781 and S. 77 provide for compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to back pay, for women denied equal pay for equal work; authorizes class-action equal pay suits; and directs the U.S. Department of Labor to provide public information about strategies for identifying and eliminating wage discrimination and to issue guidelines for evaluating jobs.
Union representation also closes the pay gap significantly for women and minorities. Unionized women of color earn almost 39 percent more then nonunion women of color. Because current law has not done enough to close the gap between the pay afforded women and minorities and their male counterparts, AFGE urges our nation’s lawmakers to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.