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Supporters of Equal Pay To Rally At Capitol

PHOTO: Supporters of equal pay legislation will again gather in the Capitol rotunda today, many wearing red to symbolize that women's paychecks are "in the red" compared to those of their male counterparts. Photo courtesy of M.Pollock/Michigan NOW.

PHOTO: Supporters of equal pay legislation will again gather in the Capitol rotunda today, many wearing red to symbolize that women's paychecks are "in the red" compared to those of their male counterparts. Photo courtesy of M.Pollock/Michigan NOW.


April 29, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - Women are worth just as much as men, and their paychecks should reflect that. That's the message the state's Equal Pay Coalition hopes to get out today with a briefing and rally at the Capitol.

Danielle Atkinson is a steering committee member of Raise Michigan, the group working to put an increase in the state's minimum wage on the November ballot. She says that move alone would go a long way toward closing the state's pay equity gap.

"When we look at the issue of minimum wage, we realize how interconnected it is with pay equity. Two-thirds of people making minimum wage are women, most of whom are supporting children," she says.

Four bills that would address the gender wage gap are currently pending in the state legislature, including measures to increase salary transparency, provide stiffer penalties for sex-based wage discrimination and establish a pay equity study commission.

Federal data show that women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every occupation, including even female-dominated fields. Atkinson says this is especially true in low-wage jobs, where she says women are being shortchanged every day.

"We have mostly women in these service jobs, making very low wages and really relying heavily on tip wages. And we need to really have equity in that structure and making sure that nobody is making below minimum wage," Atkinson explains.

Fifty-one years after the passage of the federal Equal Pay Law, women earn just 77 cents for every dollar men bring home, according to the National Organization for Women Michigan chapter, one of the organizers of the rally. Along with Atkinson, some of the lawmakers sponsoring the equal pay legislation will speak at the event.

The rally will take place at noon in the Capitol rotunda.

More information is available at www.michnow.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI