April 14th is National Equal Pay Day. This date signifies how far into 2015 women have to work to earn the same level of income that men earned in 2014. In other words, the average woman would need to work 15 months in order to make one year of the average man's pay. In New York State, women earn only 86% of what men earn, a wage gap that is less than the national average, but it still costs New York women more than $7000 annually in lost income.
The Westchester Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester, AAUW-Westchester, 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, and the Westchester Women's Agenda are organizing a rally on Tuesday, April 14 at 12PM in front of the White Plains City Hall to protest this wage inequality. They will be joined by other local groups as well as county and state lawmakers who are champions of women's rights, including:
- Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson
- NYS Assemblywoman Amy Paulin
- NYS Assemblywoman Sandy Galef
- NYS Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer
- NYS Assemblyman David Buchwald
- County Legislator Catherine Borgia
- County Legislator Catherine Parker
White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach and the Westchester County Board of Legislators have each issued separate proclamations stating that April 14 is Equal Pay Day in White Plains and the county.
"Why do we still even have a gender wage gap," asks Lisa Hofflich, President of the Westchester Chapter of the National Organization for Women and one of the main organizers of the Equal Pay Day rally. "The answer lies in this underlying, unmentionable, yet pervasive discrimination and stereotyping of women in the workforce that's just too costly to ignore. Paying employees based on performance and not gender isn't just good for business, it's good for New York."
Equal pay is an important economic security issue for women and their families. With over one million households in New York headed by women, about 29 percent of those have incomes that fall below the poverty level. More than 63% of working mothers in New York are their families' primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners. Pay inequity leaves women with less income to pay for life's necessities, including health care, housing, childcare, and groceries. It also results in lower Social Security benefits for women when they retire.
New York State Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said, "Women in New York State deserve to receive equal pay for equal work. It has been over one hundred sixty years since the Seneca Falls Convention and yet we are still forced to fight for women to be treated with equality and respect. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the State Legislature to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of gender, are guaranteed equal pay for equal work."
The groups also enthusiastically support the passage of New York Assembly bill A6075 which already passed unanimously in the state's Senate earlier this year. The legislation targets pay discrimination which results in a wage gap that deprives women and their families of much need financial resources and long-term security. A6075 guarantees workers the right to share salary information without penalty, which creates wage transparency, and makes detection of wage discrimination easier.
"I find it disheartening that in 2015 we are still arguing for equal pay for women. Gender should not be a factor in determining compensation. Wages should be driven by the job performed not the gender of the person performing it," stated Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. "I am confident that we will pass A6075, a bill I am proud to co-sponsor. This important legislation will bring needed transparency to wage inequality and another step toward equality for women," she added.
Assembly bill A6075 also closes loopholes in current law, clarifies that comparisons can be made between employees in offices in the same county, and discourages employers from unfair pay practices by increasing damages to prevailing litigants for willful discrimination.
"Pay equity for women is not just about today but about the future. What a woman's salary is now impacts her retirement finances for later in life," Assemblywoman Sandy Galef said. "With women living longer than men, they will need even more financial opportunities for retirement and to protect their families --not fewer. We must adopt laws that assure that women are at least receiving salaries on a level playing field with men."
"As the father of a newborn baby girl, I want to make absolutely sure when she enters the workforce that she receives the same compensation for the same work as do her male peers, because pay discrimination has no place in New York State," said Assemblyman David Buchwald.
Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer said, "I'm proud to be a sponsor of the Equal Pay Bill in New York. The time is long overdue for women to be paid equally for the work they do. Our American values require it - and women and their families deserve it. Let's get it done."
"It is 2015; equal pay should not be an issue. Women on average will make over $8,000 less than a man would for the same work," said County Legislator Catherine Borgia. "In a society where it is just as likely, if not more likely, for a woman to be the breadwinner of a family this number is unacceptable. That money would go a long way in helping to provide food, clothes, and shelter for a family. On this Equal Pay Day, it is time to recognize and remedy this mind boggling disparity."
"This gender gap is more than a statistic — it has real-life consequences," said Reina Schiffrin, President/CEO, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. "The fact that women are the primary breadwinners in more than 40 percent of households with children, but are only making 78 cents on the dollar is unacceptable. Thanks to increased access to reproductive health care, more women than ever are in the workforce. Yet, as the leading women's health care provider and advocate, we hear from women every day who are working full-time jobs and struggling to make ends meet."
"Equal pay isn't just a women's issue, it is a family issue," said Maria Imperial, CEO of YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester, and board member of the Westchester Women's Agenda. "And unfortunately, unequal pay is even more unequal for women of color. We need equal pay now."
"All over the country, at the state and city level, the demand for equal pay is growing," stated Jane Pendergast, AAUW-Westchester Equal Pay Group Co-Chair and former President. "Members of the New York State Legislature and Members of Congress need to step up and make change for ALL families by supporting legislation such as the New York Assembly bill A6075 (which has already passed the State Senate) and the Paycheck Fairness Act – because if the NYS Legislature and federal Congress don't act, the gender pay gap won't close in our lifetimes."
Maria Kercado, Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East said, "Most low wage jobs are held by women and many of them head their households. We are familiar with this because the majority of 1199SEIU members are women. We do the jobs that typically pay $10.10 per hour or less, such as home health aide, nursing assistant, childcare worker, and housekeeper, among others. We are here today standing up for stronger equal pay laws. It's part of our ongoing effort to get our families and economy back on track. Tomorrow, we will take to the streets with tens of thousands of woman and men fighting for a livable minimum wage for all. Everyone should be able to take care of their families and make a better life for their children, without discrimination."
"All working women need and deserve pay equity. For victims of domestic violence, the ability to support themselves and their children is a particularly crucial issue," said Carla Horton, Executive Director of Hope's Door. "Without fair and adequate incomes, victims are often forced to choose between staying for the very basics of food and shelter, or fleeing into conditions of poverty. For victims, this can be a life-threatening choice. We stand with NOW and our allies for justice in the workplace for all women."
April 13, 2015