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Equal Pay for Equal Work? Not for Michigan Women

Michigan women are paid 25 percent less then men. (Pixabay)
Michigan women are paid 25 percent less then men. (Pixabay)
April 12, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - It's Equal Pay Day, an observance that symbolizes how far into 2016 women have to work to catch up to the wages men earned in 2015. Some Michiganders are coming together to highlight these inequities in pay.

Despite more than five decades of federal law prohibiting gender-based wage discrimination, Nina Muckenthaler, administrative vice president of Michigan NOW, said women in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men are paid - and in Michigan it's just 75 cents.

"That means that we are paid 25 percent less for the work that we do simply because we are women," she siad. "I think it goes beyond simply a matter of dollars; it's also a matter of what's right and what's wrong."

With more women in the role of primary breadwinner, Muckenthaler said, the disparity has a tremendous impact on Michigan families.

"We have less money for our necessities, and even though we are paid 25 percent less, women do not get a 25 percent discount on the things they need in their daily lives," she said. "We don't get a discount on car repairs. We don't get a discount for food and housing."

The gender wage gap exists in nearly every occupation, and is even larger for women of color. While women have felt the impact for a long time, Muckenthaler said, the issue finally is getting more voice and attention.

"A lot of the actresses are coming out and talking about the lack of equal pay in Hollywood. Our women's soccer team has recently came out and they demonstrated how much less they are paid than men, and also in women's tennis," she said. "So there seems to be more public acknowledgement of it."

The Michigan Equal Pay Coalition is encouraging folks from all walks of life to join a rally on the Capitol steps today to encourage lawmakers to pass legislation to close the wage gap. Participants are encouraged to wear red to symbolize that women's wages are "in the red."

Information on pay-equity legislation is online at miequalpay.files.wordpress.com.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI