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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:35 PM
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Unions helping close equal pay gap

April 20, 2008

By Mary Beth Maxwell

Recent headlines reveal what many of us already know Americans are witnessing the highest inflation rates seen in over 20 years.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices climbed nearly 5 percent in 2007, and as housing and energy costs skyrocket out of control, working families are getting squeezed. In these difficult times, we should also be reminded that women face even greater financial struggles.

With the observance of Equal Pay Day on April 24, we mark how far into each year a woman must work to earn as much as a man did in the previous year. Recent wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not give cause for celebration.

In 2007, women earned only 80 cents for every dollar a man earned. This pay gap was substantially greater for minorities, with African-American women making only 70 cents and Hispanic women making only 62 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Although women can't always rely on their employer to give them equal pay for an equal day's work, they can count on union representation to help close the gap. That's a dirty little secret most employers don't want their workers to know just ask educators at the Ithaca City School District in Ithaca, N.Y.

In 2002, hundreds of teaching assistants and teacher aides, 90 percent of them female, had a starting pay of only $6.72 an hour. Putting pressure on the school district to end these poverty wages, the educators organized a union and bargained a contract, receiving a 50 percent raise in starting salary to $10.05 an hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent data indicates that when women are members of unions, they make the same pay as men who are not, a clear indication of the benefits unions can provide in helping improve the financial security of women.

FULL story at link.

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