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Legislative Issue

Women Are Not Worth-Less

National Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 8
Michigan Equal Pay Day, Tuesday, April 29

What is Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day in the Capitol Rotunda

Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year!

Because women earn less than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.

2014 marks the 51st year after the passage of the federal Equal Pay Law so it is surprising that the latest federal government data indicate women’s median annual earnings for full-time work was 77 cents for every dollar men made. This is essentially unchanged from 77.4 cents in 2013. This means the gender wage gap for full-time/year-round workers is now 23 cents nationally.

Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every occupation for which there are sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. This is true even in female-dominated occupations. Women of color face an even larger wage gap.

As chronicled in the AAUW study Graduating to a Pay Gap, sex-based wage disparities start with a college-educated woman’s first job when compared to men with equivalent degrees. The gender wage gap not only continues during her career, but shows an increase over time.

Since more women than ever before are the sole or primary source of household income, the wage gap is a serious issue for the economic security of families. It is time for the disparities to end by strengthening our laws nationally and in Michigan.

Capitol Rally at Noon

Come to the rally to commemorate Michigan Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 29 at noon in the Michigan Capitol Rotunda.

Legislative sponsors of the pay equity legislation will speak as well as Danielle Atkinson from Raise Michigan and Kerri Sleeman of Hancock, Michigan who testified in early April before a U.S. Senate Committee considering the federal Paycheck Fairness Act.

Sleeman traveled to Washington, D.C., for a whirlwind trip – lasting fewer than 24 hours! – to drive home the message that no one should be paid less than their value and it's long past time for our lawmakers to do something about gender pay discrimination.

“If the Paycheck Fairness Act had been the law, I would have talked about my salary without fear, and I likely would have known where I stood in comparison to the men I worked with and those I supervised,” said Sleeman. “Instead, without the Paycheck Fairness Act, I wasn’t able to ask, and I made less.”

What We Want in Michigan

The Michigan Equal Pay Coalition, including Michigan NOW, will call on lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure that Michigan's women are paid the same as their male counterparts for comparable work.

Bills to strengthen Michigan’s laws about pay equity are in Legislative Committees awaiting action:

  • SB 296/HB 4516 Providing wage transparency for similarly situated employees.
  • SB 297/HB 4519 Increasing penalties for wage discrimination based on gender.
  • SB 298/HB 4519 Strengthening the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to make it clear that sex-based wage discrimination is illegal under Michigan law and incorporating the equal pay factors into the ELCRA.
  • SB 299/HB 4517 Establishing a pay equity study commission to examine the scope of the issue in Michigan and provide technical assistance to employers.

Women and families are being shortchanged thousands of dollars a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars over a course of a lifetime because of unaddressed pay disparities.

Advocates will distribute chocolate chip cookies with a “bite” taken out to legislators to symbolize the pay disparity.

Wear red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize that women’s pay is “in the red” compared to men’s pay.

Pay Equity Briefing at 9:30 a.m.

Everyone is also invited to attend a Pay Equity Briefing at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 29 across the street from the Capitol. Space is limited and registration is required.

An optional Pay Equity Briefing will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. across the street (north) from the Capitol Building in the Merrifield Room at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 218 Ottawa St., Lansing for those who want more in depth information about pay equity concepts and initiatives. Light refreshments are included in the registration fee of $10. Speakers from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are featured as well as those familiar with the proposed legislation and how to communicate the issue to legislators and the public. To register, make a $10 check out to AAUW of Michigan and send with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address and any organizational affiliation by April 25 to the AAUW of Michigan Finance Director Sally Doty, 17156 Wiltshire, Southfield MI 48076 indicating “Pay Equity Briefing” in the memo line. Due to space limitations and food arrangements, walk-ins cannot be assured space in the briefing.

From Interstate 496 take Grand Ave. Exit. Grand Ave. is a one-way street going north. Go north about 7 blocks and turn left on Ottawa Street or Shiawassee Street, depending on whether you want to park on the street or in a parking ramp garage. See map

(1) A public parking ramp garage is available on Shiawassee and Capitol.
(2) Street parking is also possible. Most street meters have limited time allotments. Bring $2 to $3 of quarters for street meter parking.