Faith and Action on Equal Pay Day

by Laura Barrett

April 4 is Equal Pay Day — the day when the average working women’s pay finally catches up to the average working man’s earnings from the previous year. Pay inequity is felt by all working women, but women of color tend to have it even worse than their white colleagues. While white women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to the average white male, African-American women make just 63 cents and Latina women make 54 cents on the dollar.

These are outrageous numbers and as a nation, we need to fix this disparity.

Women are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of families with children, but last year, the wage gap meant that they averaged $10,470 less in their paychecks than men who do the same job. That’s a huge sum of money. Think about what $10,000 could mean for a working woman. It could be the difference between whether a prescription is filled or an illness goes untreated. It could be the difference between paying the gas bill or keeping the heat on. It could be the difference between a family putting money away for their child’s higher education or living paycheck to paycheck with no savings.

If we are serious about strengthening the middle-class and supporting working families, we must pass a Paycheck Fairness Act which will help level the playing field for low-income working moms, especially working moms of color.

But instead of being the champion for working people as he repeatedly promised on the campaign trail, Donald Trump is issuing executive orders and backing legislation which will make the lives of working women and their families much more difficult. Trump’s order repealing an Obama-era rule that forced federal contractors to disclose any wage and/or safety violations on their record will allow employers to more often get away with committing wage theft and failing to ensure a safe workplace. His stance on immigration has emboldened the worst elements of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain working women at their job, at their church, and even at their children’s school.

The president and Congress should protect working women with meaningful policy, like a Paycheck Fairness Act, that will lift women out of poverty and close the wage gap. Any realization of Republican promises to champion working people would be a welcome departure from today’s grim GOP reality.

As people of faith committed to justice and dignity for all people, we will continue to advocate for policies that promote fair and equal pay for working women everywhere.