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For Calif. Women of Color, Nothing to Celebrate on "Equal Pay Day"

Today is Equal Pay Day, highlighting the fact that California women make 84 cents to a man's dollar, and the wage gap is even larger for women of color. (sri-graphics/iStockphoto)
Today is Equal Pay Day, highlighting the fact that California women make 84 cents to a man's dollar, and the wage gap is even larger for women of color. (sri-graphics/iStockphoto)
April 12, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO - It's Equal Pay Day, April 12, which means women have to work about 16 months to earn the same amount of money that men make in 12 months.

A new report from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, women in California make almost 16 percent less than men - which is better than the national average of 21 percent.

Still, Noreen Farrell, executive director with the nonprofit Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco, says the gender pay gap has stagnated for the past decade and for non-white women, it has increased.

"African American women would have to work into July to make what men made in the previous calendar year," says Farrell. "Latinas would have to work until October to make what men make in the previous year. It's much worse for women of color."

Farrell says California's new first-in-the-nation hike in the hourly minimum wage, to $15, should go a long way toward improving pay equity. State lawmakers also passed a bill last year to ban retaliation against workers who compare salaries.

This year, Farrell is supporting AB 1676, legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, that bans companies from asking applicants about their salary history.

"When an employer asks a woman what she made at her last job, that's in some circumstances been depressed by prior discrimination, and she starts off on unequal pay footing," Farrell says.

On the federal level, the report authors would like to see Congress pass the Fair Pay Act, the Equal Rights Act, and bills to guarantee family leave, universal child care and flexible work schedules.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA