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Black Women’s Equal Pay Day highlights generations of inequality—and lack of progress today

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Black Women’s Equal Pay Day falls on August 13 this year. That’s the day when, starting on January 1, 2019, Black women have finally been paid what white men were paid in 2019 alone. Equal Pay Day, the day observing this marker for women overall in the U.S., fell on March 31 this year, while Latina Equal Pay Day won’t come until November.

It takes us this long to get to Black Women’s Equal Pay Day because Black women make just 62 cents for every dollar paid to white men, a gross disparity that will cost the average Black woman more than $20,000 a year and nearly $950,000 in her lifetime, and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. “Indeed, from 1967 to 2018, the most recent year for which data are available, the wage gap for Black women narrowed by just 19 cents,” the National Women’s Law Center’s Jasmine Tucker reports. The coronavirus crisis is not helping.

While Black women are disproportionately likely to hold essential jobs, “making up 11 percent of the front-line workforce despite only making up 6.3 percent of the workforce overall,” that doesn’t translate to equal pay. Black women within these essential occupations still make less than their white male counterparts (and white female counterparts, though the gap there is less). As always, education is no solution: “Black women doctors are paid 73% of the average hourly wage paid to non-Hispanic white male doctors (a difference of $16.82 per hour),” according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Valerie Wilson and Melat Kassa. 

Even as Black women are a disproportionate and underpaid part of the essential workforce, some experts say the pandemic is likely to worsen inequality for Black women workers in particular. That shouldn’t be the way of it, but the centuries of oppression and inequality embedded in the pay gap—and the way too many Black women’s lives have been treated as basically disposable in the face of the danger of COVID-19—tell us that’s a likely outcome.

”We owe Black women so much more. Especially right now in the middle of this pandemic, the wage gap has robbed them of their ability to weather this storm,” the NWLC’s Tucker told USA Today’s Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy. “They don’t have the financial cushion, they don’t have any savings because we haven’t been paying them what we owe them. And that’s just straight earnings that doesn’t even account for if they were able to put any money away, if they were able to buy a house, the equity, the wealth that they could have built for themselves over that time.”

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on August 13, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.


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Airport Starbucks workers face big racial pay disparity, this week in the war on workers

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Starbucks bills itself as a good employer—and sometimes it lives up to that. But not all Starbucks locations are operated by Starbucks, and UNITE HERE has released a damning report on pervasive discrimination and harassment at 142 Starbucks locations operated by HMSHost in 27 airports. Median pay for black baristas is $1.85 less than for white baristas at these locations, and claims that it’s about tenure on the job don’t hold up. In Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, for instance, “There were three Black baristas with more seniority than one of the white baristas who made $2.50 an hour less than that white barista. Another white barista who had only 4 months more seniority than one of the Black baristas made $3.17 an hour more.”

In contrast to Starbucks’ image as an LGBTQ-friendly company, workers at the HMSHost Starbucks report widespread harassment, misgendering, and transphobia. LGBTQ workers aren’t the only ones facing harassment: “More than 1 in 4 immigrant workers surveyed at HMSHost Starbucks have been told to stop speaking their preferred language by managers at work.” Starbucks is failing these workers.

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on February 29, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.


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Latina Equal Pay Day finally rolls around, this week in the war on workers

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November 20 was Latina Equal Pay Day. That means that’s when the average Latina caught up with what the average white man was paid between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. And yes, it is nearly 2020. Latinas need to work nearly a full extra year to match the white man’s single year.

While women overall make 80 or 81 cents on the white man’s dollar, putting Equal Pay Day in April, and Black Women’s Equal Pay Day comes in late August since they make 61 cents on the dollar, for Latinas it’s 53 cents for every dollar a white man makes. White women make 77 cents, Asian American women make 85 cents, and Native American women make 58 cents.

“At every level of education, white non-Hispanic men are paid more than Hispanic women. What’s also clear from the data is that further education does not close their sizable wage gaps with white non-Hispanic men,” the Economic Policy Institute reports. “As Hispanic women increase their educational attainment, their pay gap with white men generally increases. The largest dollar gap (more than $18 an hour), occurs for workers with more than a college degree. Even Hispanic women with an advanced degree earn less than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree. That statistic bears repeating: white non-Hispanic men with only a college degree are paid, on average, $6.81 more than Latinas with an advanced degree!”

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on November 25, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor

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Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is a powerful reminder of how equal pay isn’t

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Equal Pay Day, the day when women had made as much since January 1, 2018, as white men made in 2018, was back on April 2. It is just now—August 22, 2019—Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. That’s because while women overall make 80 to 81 cents for every dollar a white man makes, there are major racial disparities among women.

Asian women have the smallest disparity, making a whopping 85 cents on the dollar, so their equal pay day comes in early March. White women come next, at 77 cents—their equal pay day is just a few days after the overall one, on April 19. For black women, it’s 61 cents, which is why we’re here in late August talking about equal pay, by which we mean how equal the pay isn’t. That gap adds up fast, Jocelyn Frye writes at the Center for American Progress, “amounting to $23,653 less in earnings over an entire year. In the span of a 40-year career, this translates into an average lifetime earnings gap of $946,120 between Black women and white men.” Black women face a massive gap no matter how much education they get—and they’re left with higher student loan debt than any other racial group.

When we talk about Equal Pay Day, we’re always talking about apples to apples—people who work full time and year round. And with black women, we’re talking about the group of women that has always worked outside the home at the highest rates, with a complicated and often viciously discriminatory history in which, Frye writes, “Black women frequently encounter a workplace narrative that deemphasizes the importance of their personal caregiving responsibilities or suggests that their caregiving roles should be secondary to their paid work.” Black women have long cared for white children for low wages while their caregiving role for their own children was shoved to the side, and black women remain disproportionately in occupations in which scheduling abuses and unpredictable weekly hours of work make life even more difficult than low wages alone would do.

Since Native American women earn 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes and Latina women earn 53 cents, their equal pay days won’t come until September 23 and November 20.

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on August 22, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

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CEO pay is a scandal—or anyway, it should be—this week in the war on workers

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Since 1978, CEO pay has grown 1,007.5% by one measure and a mere 940.3% by another measure, the Economic Policy Institute reports. Average workers? Their pay has gone up just 11.9%. That’s not all, either. The increase in CEO pay has dramatically outstripped the increase for other very high earners, which is positively modest at 339.2%.

The numbers start to seem a little more manageable if you drill down to more recent years, but the inequality is still striking:

CEO compensation has grown 52.6% in the recovery since 2009 using the options-exercised measure and 29.4% using the options-granted measure. In contrast, the typical workers in these large firms saw their annual compensation grow by just 5.3% over the recovery and actually fall by 0.2% between 2017 and 2018.

EPI also finds in the data an indication that no, CEOs aren’t magical unicorns who are worth all that money on their own unique merit: “CEOs of large firms earned 5.4 times that of the average top 0.1% earner in 2017, up from 4.4 times in 2007. This is yet another indicator that CEO pay is more likely based on CEOs’ power to set their own pay, not on a market for talent.”

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on August 20, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

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Elizabeth Warren heads to Essence Festival with plan to ‘value the work of Black women’

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“The numbers tell the story,” Warren writes in Essence. “Black women are more likely to be breadwinners for their families and work more than almost any other set of women workers in America, including white women. Yet, Black women are paid less and they are less likely to be able to afford basic human rights like healthcare, childcare and housing.”

Because “This is no accident,” it will take intention and hard work to reverse. Warren’s plans for universal childcare, housing, and canceling student debt will help black and brown women, but she’s not stopping there. Warren pledges a series of executive actions to “boost wages for women of color and open up new pathways to the leadership positions they deserve.” That starts with a ban on new federal contracts for “Companies with a bad track record on equal pay and diversity in management.” Federal contractors will also be banned from “forcing employees to sign away their rights with forced arbitration clauses and non-compete agreements—restrictions that are particularly hurtful to women of color.”

Warren also pledges to “take executive action to make the senior ranks of the federal government look like America and strengthen enforcement against systemic discrimination.”

This is intersectional policy: Warren is clear about how her policies that aren’t tailored to black women will still help black women, but she’s also clear that systemic discrimination requires more. One-size-fits-all policy solutions won’t fix a system that’s been designed not just to elevate the wealthy but to crush some groups more than others.

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on July 5, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

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Stop using the U.S. women’s soccer team as inspiration*. Just pay them more money.

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On Sunday, moments after the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to win its second consecutive World Cup title — its fourth championship overall — Fox cut to commercial, and a Nike advertisement aired.

The ad, shot in stylish black-and-white, was a take on U.S. Soccer’s “I believe that we will win” chant, which is commonly used by supporters of both the men’s and women’s national teams. Among other things, the commercial stated its belief that “a whole generation of girls and boys will go out and play and say things like, ‘I want to be like Megan Rapinoe when I grow up,’ and that they’ll be inspired to talk and win and stand up for themselves.”

It was moving, invigorating, and down-right inspirational.

It was also extremely frustrating.

Nike is a brand with a value upwards of $15 billion. And in 2019, it’s time for global brands like Nike to stop just using their power to promote these women as inspirations, and start using their power to get these women paid what they deserve.

Sure: Nike has done a lot for women’s soccer, and implying otherwise would be foolish. It sponsors several USWNT players, including Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath, and Megan Rapinoe. They are not only U.S. Soccer’s biggest partner, but they also have an ongoing deal with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) as the league’s primary uniform, apparel, and equipment provider, as reported by The Equalizer.

And this gives Nike far more leverage in this fight, not less.

Sponsors have so much power in the sporting world: Leagues and television networks and players all need the sponsors in order to survive. So, what would happen if an organization as powerful as Nike insisted on pay equality? It’s hard to imagine the needle not moving in the right direction.

And as far as women’s soccer has come over the past couple of decades, that needle still has a long way to go. This year, USWNT players will get about $250,000 each for winning the World Cup and participating in the scheduled four-game Victory Tour in the United States. The U.S. men’s team would earn well over $1 million each for the same feat. A recent Guardian report showed there is a $730,000 per-player difference in the World Cup bonus structure between U.S. men’s and women’s teams.

Naturally, FIFA is the worst culprit of them all. The U.S. women won $4 million for winning the World Cup. Last year, the French men won $38 million when they took home the title. Overall, FIFA gives out $410 million more in prize money to men than women in the World Cup. While they have announced plans to increase the amount of prize money for future women’s World Cups, the gap will remain staggering for the foreseeable future.

That inequity makes FIFA’s patronizing “Dare to Shine” slogan down-right insufferable. These women are shining. They always have been shining. And now, they’ve used their light to expose the many ways the powers-that-be have been trying to hold them back.

Recently, some brands — clearly recognizing that it would get them public relations points — have taken the concept of inequality into their own hands. Earlier this year, after the USWNT announced it was suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, Adidas announced that it was paying its women soccer players the same performance bonuses as it would pay its men’s soccer players at the World Cup. Luna Bar also stepped up and announced it was going to pay each of the 23 women named to the 2019 USNWT World Cup team $31,250, which is the exact difference between the women’s and men’s World Cup roster bonus given by U.S. Soccer. On Sunday, Budweiser became the first official beer sponsor of the NWSL. And in Visa’s new deal with U.S. Soccer, it is mandating that more than 50 percent of its money go towards the women’s team.

Is all of this coming from a place of pure charity? Of course not. Investing in women is good business. Nike certainly knows this — last month, the USWNT World Cup jersey became the highest-selling jersey in the history of Nike.com, even beating out all of the men’s jerseys.

So, yes, it’s wonderful that Nike is releasing chill-inducing commercials celebrating these phenomenal athletes, and that it believes that “we will keep fighting not just to make history, but to change it forever.” But Nike and other mega sponsors don’t just have the power to promote these ideals; they have the power to implement them. Perhaps they should just do it.

This article was originally published in ThinkProgress on July 8, 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Lindsay Gibbs covers sports. SportsReporter CoHost  Tennis  Mystics   


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This Women’s World Cup is reaching new heights thanks to collective actions from female footballers

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Inside the labor movements that are taking women’s soccer to new heights.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France is already on its way to being the most successful edition of the event ever. Though the tournament is still in the group stages, it is already breaking viewership records around the globe.

FIFA likes to take credit for this increase in popularity, but that credit is, of course, wholly unearned. In the past four years, as more and more people called for the sport’s governing body to close the gap in prize money between the men’s and women’s World Cup, FIFA actually increased the disparity between the two by $40 million, and on the ground in France, it seems that FIFA has not done an adequate job of promotion or ticketing.

Rather, the increased excitement is owed largely to the overall growth of women’s football; and that growth is due solely to the women who not only play the sport, but have taken it upon themselves to be its fiercest and most effective advocates and activists. Female footballers have always had to fight for the right to merely exist, but since the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, collective labor actions from teams around the world have extracted more concessions and progress from federations than FIFA ever has.

Even the most casual sports fans have likely heard about the defending World Cup champions, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, arguing that it pays the men’s team more money than the women’s team, despite the fact that they do the same job, and have achieved more success than their male counterparts.

The USWNT — which has been battling U.S. Soccer for more equitable treatment since it was founded — really brought their fight with the federation into the public square after winning it all in Canada in 2015 and being subjected to a Victory Tour of exhibition games that were played primarily on subpar turf, a surface the men’s team hardly ever has to play on. After boycotting a match in Hawaii because of the dangerous field conditions, the USWNT launched an #EqualPlayEqualPay campaign in 2016 and filed a wage-discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Since the issue still has not been remedied to their liking, the USWNT has now taken its fight to the biggest stage in the sport.

The Spanish women’s team actually began its collective action in 2015, when the Women’s World Cup was still happening. After the Spanish women finished in last place in their group in their World Cup debut, the players wrote an open letter asking for the firing of their manager, Ignacio Quereda, who was allowed to oversee the team for 27 years despite only winning 38% of their matches under his direction. As detailed by Deadspin, he also emotionally abused the players by attacking them for their weight and calling them immature little girls (“chavalitas”); kept players off the team if they crossed him; and did so little actual coaching that the players actually had to scout their opponents on YouTube themselves.

The letter received enough attention that Quereda ultimately resigned, and the Spanish football federation — which spent less than 1% of its budget on women’s football in 2014 — has begun prioritizing the women’s game a bit more. At this year’s World Cup, the Spanish team has already advanced to the knockout rounds.

In the fall of 2015, the Australian women’s national soccer team canceled a sell-out tour of the United States because players were so upset over their pay, which was far below minimum wage. Despite the fact that the Matildas reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup, they left Canada with just $2,014 in their pockets, which did little to boost their $14,844 annual salary. The strike was effective — their annual salary has essentially doubled, and contracts in the Australian pro league have increased significantly as well.

In 2016, the Chilean women’s team was fed up after years of neglect, and decided to form a players’ union. This union ended up integrating with the men’s union, and gained enough power to convince the Chilean federation to host the Copa América, a major women’s football tournament in the region, which ended up being the launchpad for Chile to earn its maiden Women’s World Cup bid.

“The Chilean team would not be playing in the 2019 World Cup were it not for the voluntary labor, blood, sweat, tears of the players themselves,” said Dr. Brenda Elsey, an associate professor of history at Hofstra University and co-author of Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America.

In December 2016, the Nigerian Super Falcons decided to stage a sit-in at the Agura Hotel in the nation’s capital until they received their bonuses for winning the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations — a total of $23,650 per player. Janine Anthony, a presenter and reporter for BBC South Africa, told ThinkProgress that it is not uncommon for bureaucracy in Nigeria to complicate payments, since most of the money for football comes from the government. However, those complications disproportionately impact the women.

“You just know that if it was for the men’s team, a lot of things would be faster,” Anthony said. “Every time you have issues, the girls have to be the one to … just understand. ‘Oh, please bear with us.’”

This time, however, they were done bearing with anybody. Their protest garnered national attention, and the federation very quickly found a way to access the money that had been so unobtainable just a day prior.

The following year, the Swedish women’s football team threatened to boycott the Player Awards Gala and their friendly against France if a new contract wasn’t reached, and Scottish players implemented a media blackout to raise awareness about the lack of financial support and respect shown by the Scottish Football Association. Both actions led to improved contracts.

Also in 2017, Argentinian and Brazilian female players followed in Chile’s footsteps and challenged their federations. In Brazil, multiple players retired in protest and a group of former and current players released a powerful letter denouncing the federation’s abrupt firing of Emily Lima, the team’s first female coach. The Brazilian federation launched a commission to address the concerns raised in the letter, but it was disbanded four months later, without any concrete advances.

The Argentinian women had a bit more luck. In the spring of 2017, the Argentinian women’s team was convened after an 18-month hiatus to play a match in Uruguay. But players had to travel in and out of the country on the same day as the match, there was hardly any support staff present, and the players didn’t even receive their paltry $8.50 per day stipends. So, they went on strike, and wrote a letter as a national team.

The federation ended up re-hiring head coach Carlos Borello, who they had let go after the team failed to qualify for the 2015 World Cup, adding a bit more support staff, and paying the players a stipend. It’s far from equality, but it did lead to the Argentinian women making their World Cup debut in France.

Of course, these examples only come from the 24 teams that qualified for the World Cup. These labor movements are happening throughout the ranks of women’s football.

Last September, the Puerto Rico women’s team actually stopped playing right after their friendly against Argentina kicked off and stood united facing the main stand, putting their hands to their ears, signaling for the Puerto Rican Football Association to listen to their complaints about working conditions and support.

In December, The Guardian reported on allegations that Karim Keramuddin, a top official with the Afghanistan Football Federation, had been sexually abusing players on the Afghanistan women’s national team. The players — who do not all live in Afghanistan, but rather are spread out around the globe — came together and reported the abuse. Just last week, FIFA banned Keram for life, and Afghan officials have issued a warrant for his arrest.

“I think the executives and the men complicit in this abuse were feeling like, because the women were not all in one place that they would not be unified or have that network. But sometimes WhatsApp does wonderful things, and it can keep you bonded. And these women really, literally decided to stick together,” said Shireen Ahmed, a freelance sports reporter and co-host of Burn It All Down, a weekly feminist sports podcast. [Editor’s note: the author of this article is also a co-host of the podcast.]

Thanks to all of these collective actions, progress is slowly unfolding.  In the past couple of years, both Norway and New Zealand have struck historic equal pay deals with their women’s teams, and in 2019, just before they left for the World Cup, the South African football federation told the women’s national team that it would earn the same bonuses that the men earn in tournaments from here on out.

All of these gains are only possible because female footballers worldwide are banding together and demanding their worth, recognizing and embracing the power of solidarity.

Of course, until FIFA itself decides to get its act together and close the $410 million prize money gap, and mandate that federations spend more than 15% of their FIFA funds on programs for women and youth, the gender gap in football is always going to be gaping.

“FIFA is ultimately the gatekeeper because they have the most amount of resources,” said Meg Linehan. “U.S. soccer isn’t happy with them but no one in the world was happy with them either.”

This article was originally published in ThinkProgress on June 19, 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Lindsay Gibbs covers sports. SportsReporter CoHost  Tennis  Mystics   


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Despite Breaking The Glass Ceiling, Women At The Top Earn Less

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There are few frontiers anymore. Women are CEOs, brain surgeons, law partners and astronauts. Little girls have role models in nearly any occupation they want to pursue.

Yet the gender pay gap persists, even for women in high-paying professions. In fact, the pay gap is wider at the top than it is for “working class” women. And the gulf is growing. Did someone cancel the Equal Pay Act?

The gender gap is a canyon in top-earning professions

It’s not that some HR person decides to pay X amount to Joe and a lesser salary to Jane. The wage gap accrues over time in different and sometimes subtle ways. Gender bias in job postings, salary negotiations and performance reviews. The “father bonus” and “mommy penalty” for working parents.  A lack of mentoring opportunities for women. And the Catch-22 of salary history.

Both anecdotally and statistically, the gender gap persists in nearly every field. But it is especially pronounced at the highest levels. Male corporate executives reap millions more in pay and perks. Male doctors earn substantially more than female counterparts in the same specialty. Likewise scientists, lawyers, engineers, computer programmers and financial advisers.

This is counter to the overall trend. In wage earner jobs, the pay gap still exists but it has steadily shrunk. Women of color have made the biggest gains. But at the top, the playing field remains uneven and apparently getting worse.

Is there really a pay gap?

Back in the 1960s, before the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women in American earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. The pay gap has shrunk considerably; women now earn 77 cents against the male dollar. In fact, detractors claim there is no wage gap at all. They contend women earn less because they choose lower-paying jobs, have less education or experience, work fewer hours, or voluntarily drop out of the workforce.

Some of those arguments are valid, but numerous studies show that a gender gap remains after accounting for all those factors. In other words, there is still a disparity that cannot be explained by non-discriminatory factors.

What about women in the federal workforce?

According to the General Accounting Office, the federal employee gender pay gap has also shrunk over the decades. Much of that decline is a shift from low-paying clerical work that was dominated by women to more sophisticated jobs requiring higher education and experience. But after controlling for other factors, the GAO says there is still an unexplained gender gap of about 7 percent. There is less gender disparity in lower end General Schedule jobs where starting pay scales are more rigid.

But, as with the private sector, there is still a notable gap at the top levels of federal employment. For example, women in GS 14, GS 15 and SES positions may earn less than male counterparts or predecessors even though they hold Ph.D.’s and the requisite experience. Those old biases that favor men pervade even the federal government.

What if you think you are being paid less in your government job?

Making a case for a raise or promotion is one thing. Proving gender discrimination is another. Have there been other indications of unequal treatment, such as derogatory comments, different assignments, or being pulled from certain accounts or assignments? Are male counterparts with lesser credentials advanced or paid more? Are there trends in how men and women in the department are treated? Does your manager consider salary history (a system which perpetuates the gender gap) in determining what you should be paid in your current job?

The employment law attorneys of Passman & Kaplan, P.C., focus almost exclusively on the rights of federal sector employees. We represented government workers up and down the strata and in every federal agency.

This blog was originally published by Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law on May 27, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Founded in 1990 by Edward H. Passman and Joseph V. Kaplan, Passman & Kaplan, P.C., Attorneys at Law, is focused on protecting the rights of federal employees and promoting workplace fairness.  The attorneys of Passman & Kaplan (Edward H. Passman, Joseph V. Kaplan, Adria S. Zeldin, Andrew J. Perlmutter, Johnathan P. Lloyd and Erik D. Snyder) represent federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies, and also represent employees in U.S. District and Appeals Courts.


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Power Connection: Connecticut AFL-CIO Empowers Fight for $15

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In a monumental leap of economic justice last week, the Connecticut Legislature passed a law that increases the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023. The increase brings Connecticut into parity with its neighboring states of New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, which have passed similar increases. The victory comes as a result of unprecedented coordination among labor unions and allied advocates in the state that have been fighting for an increase for years.

“After years of grassroots organizing, Connecticut will finally catch up to our neighbors,” said Connecticut AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano. “We applaud the legislature for doing the right thing and raising wages for over 330,000 workers in our state.”

The victory was aided by a number of union members who have been elected to the state’s General Assembly. Of critical importance to the bill’s passage were the co-chairs of the assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, state Sen. Julie Kushner, former director of UAW Region 9A, and state Rep. Robyn Porter, who was once a single mother who worked three jobs to make ends meet.

The state legislature also has a paid family and medical leave bill that is tentatively scheduled for a vote the week of May 20. “All these combined are going to make a huge difference in people’s lives,” Kushner said.

The significance of the measure is not lost on those who will immediately benefit from the increase. “When fast-food workers walked off the job nearly seven years ago demanding $15 and a union, nobody thought we had a chance,” said Joseph Franklin, a leader in the Fight for $15 coalition and a McDonald’s worker in Hartford. “Our movement is gaining momentum.”

The Connecticut AFL-CIO has been diligently working to elect union members and allies to office, and this victory shows that the path to power flows directly through the labor movement.

This blog was originally published at AFL-CIO on May 21, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Michael Gillis is a writer at AFL-CIO.

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