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Latinas are getting slammed in the COVID-19 economy, this week in the war on workers

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Latina Equal Pay Day was this week, and if it’s not bad enough that it took this long for Latinas to be paid as much as white men made in 2019, the coronavirus pandemic is dumping additional bad news on them. Women are dropping out of the workforce in large numbers, but Latinas are dropping out in larger numbers than white or Black women—nearly three times and more than four times the rate, respectively.

Then there are Latina domestic workers, who have been crushed by the COVID-19 economy, losing work and in many cases not being eligible for government assistance.

The pandemic is hitting hardest where people were already struggling—with higher infection and death rates among Latino and Black people, and with the economic impact also falling disproportionately on people who are already discriminated against and underpaid and unprotected.

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos Labor on October 31, 2020. Reprinted with permission.


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COVID-19 highlights gross inequality on this Latina Equal Pay Day

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It’s Oct. 29, and it’s Latina Equal Pay Day. That means that on this day, the typical Latina has been paid as much since Jan. 1, 2019 as the typical white man was paid between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. That’s because Latinas are paid just 54 or 55 cents on the white man’s dollar overall.

It’s a particularly grievous injury in this year of the pandemic. “We may be valued less, but Latinas are among the pandemic’s most essential workers,” actor and activist America Ferrera writes. “When most Americans were told to stay safe at home, many Latinas didn’t have the luxury of protecting themselves and their families first. They were called to the front lines to protect other Americans; to do the work of caring for sick Americans in hospitals, working the fields to keep Americans fed, or supporting other families through domestic work. Even though the Latinx community makes up less than 20% of the U.S. population, we make up over 40% of workers in both the meatpacking and farming industries.”

But it’s not all about what industries Latinas work in. Latinas are also paid just 67 cents “relative,” the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) notes, “to non-Hispanic white men with the same level of education, age, and geographic location.” This is not just a pay disparity coming from differences in education or age, in other words, so don’t try to make that argument. In fact, “Latina doctors, many of whom are currently treating coronavirus patients, are paid 68% of the average hourly wage of non-Hispanic white male doctors (a difference of $20.46 per hour).”

Medicine isn’t the only industry of critical importance during the coronavirus pandemic in which Latinas are underpaid, EPI reports. It’s also true of restaurant wait staff, cashiers, child care workers, and elementary and middle school teachers.

There can be no serious argument that this isn’t about both sexism and racism. 

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on October 29, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson is a staff writer on labor for Daily Kos.


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Women Deserve a Raise

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Today is International Women’s Day, and there is no better time to lift up the role unions play in achieving economic equality for women. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently released a brief, titled The Union Advantage for Women, which quantifies the benefits of union membership for working women, and the numbers don’t lie!

 IWPR estimates that the typical union woman makes a whopping 30% more per week than her nonunion sister. The benefits of unions are greatest for women of color, who otherwise face stronger economic barriers than their white counterparts. Latina union members make an estimated 47% more than Latinas who are not union members, and the union wage premium for black women is about 28%. For comparison, the union difference for men overall is not as large; union men make about 20% more than nonunion men.

So what’s behind the union advantage? When working women come together (and with our male allies), we are able to bargain for the wages we deserve, robust benefits, and respect and dignity on the job. Outside of the workplace, unions fight for state and local policies such as paid sick leave, family and medical leave insurance, fair schedules, and raising the minimum wage—all which disproportionately benefit women and their families.

Ladies, we deserve a raise! And it starts with a voice and power on the job.


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