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April 3 2017

Rochester NOW: Still unequal pay for equal work

Democrat & Chronicle
featuring Carrie L. Lukas

Some Rochester coffee shops are joining dozens of retailers across the country to stand with women’s groups protesting the gender pay gap.

Roughly 300 businesses in at least 25 cities plan to offer discounts or special offers to women and, in some cases, men, on Tuesday, which is Equal Pay Day.

The date — April 4 —  symbolizes how many days longer it takes a woman to earn the same salary as a man. While the gap has shrunk somewhat in recent years, a woman could expect to work 95 more days this year to earn the same salary as a man.

This despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, when a full-time working woman made 59 cents for every dollar of her male peers. If that progress continued, women would earn the same pay as men by 2059.

"This is one day a year," said Jaclyn Richard, president of the Rochester chapter of the National Organization of Women. "We are just trying to make some noise. We are just doing this to (bring) some kind of attention because I think people need to be educated."

Currently, women on average are paid 20 percent less than men in the United States, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. Black women earn roughly 30 percent less with Hispanic women earning about 39 percent less.

Annual median pay in New York state for men is $52,124 and $46,208 for women, according to a report from the American Association of University Women. Those figures put New York at the top with Delaware as having the smallest gap in the county.

Some differences in pay can be explained by work experience, taking time off to raise children and working in careers that have more flexible hours but lower earning potential. However, the gap stubbornly pops up in range of occupations and industries.

Richard said the gap may exist for some simply because they don't seek to negotiate better pay when the opportunity arises.



"It's hard to tell what the reason is," she added.

While few dispute the gap, not everyone agrees at how big it is.

The Census Bureau says women earn about 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, based on median full-time worker salaries. The gap is roughly the same when it comes to weekly or hourly wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, the politically conservative Independent Women's Forum disputes that a pay gap exists, pointed to how statistics show the median — or midpoint — of salary distributions.

"The economy is not a battle between the sexes," Carrie Lukas, managing director of the group, said in a statement. "And the public should reject the tired logic of the feminist movement that seems intent on denying that women ever make any progress. That’s just not what the statistic tells us."

The Rochester Chapter of the National Organization of Women plan to protest Tuesday morning outside the Coffee Connection, 681 South Ave.

Meanwhile, the Coffee Connection along with the Greenhouse Café, 2271 E. Main St., and 1872 Café, 431 W. Main St., plan to offer specials for women.

The local chapter of NOW and the University of Rochester Susan B. Anthony Center are sponsoring an Equal Pay Day discussion at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Morel Hall 321 on the University of Rochester campus.

For more, visit the local NOW chapter at rochesternow.org.

TCLAUSEN@Gannett.com 

Includes reporting by Jessica Guynn of USA Today.

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Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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