LANSING — Today, the Progressive Women’s Caucus took part in activities throughout Lansing to recognize Equal Pay Day 2018. Equal Pay Day annually recognizes the symbolic day when a typical woman must work to make what a typical man made by the end of 2017. As of April 10, 2018, women on average make $.80 for every $1 a man makes. This statistic is worse for African-American women ($.63), Native-American women ($.57), Latinas ($.54), and mothers compared to fathers ($.71).

Without any change to Michigan’s laws to require pay parity, the gender wage gap is not projected to close until 2084, placing Michigan among the top ten states with the longest span of time to achieve equal pay.

“When a woman earns less than her male counterpart for doing the same work, not only does she lose, but her family and her local economy lose as well,” said state Rep. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), vice chairwoman of the PWC and co-chair of the Women’s Economic Task Force. “Women make up nearly half of the country’s workforce, yet even when controlling for every other possible factor, we’re still underpaid. That has a ripple effect, preventing women from contributing financially to their homes and communities in the way their male counterparts can, stripping the economy and the world at large of valuable resources, holding us all back in the long run. This important economic civil rights and human rights issue must be addressed so that we can work together to drive our economy forward.”

PWC members were joined in Lansing for the day’s activities by Equal Pay Day advocates, many of whom attended the morning’s House Commerce and Trade Committee meeting, where the PWC’s Pay Equity bill package has sat untouched since its introduction in April 2017. The bills in the package would require employers to disclose, upon request, wage information for similarly situated employees; require employers to post information and tell employees about equal pay laws; create new user-friendly tools to report pay disparity in the workplace; and create an incentive awards program for employers who take steps to eliminate wage discrimination in the workplace and establish penalties for organizations that fail to comply with equal pay laws.

PWC members and their Democratic colleagues have introduced and fought for pay equity legislation in the last two legislative terms, yet legislative leadership consistently fail to bring the legislation up for consideration.

“For too long, the rules have been rigged against women in the workforce, taking away our freedom to provide secure and dignified lives for ourselves and our families,” said state Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township), secretary of the PWC and co-chair of the Women’s Economic Task Force. “Equal pay helps strengthen the economic security of families while helping to ease future retirement costs and revving up the economy. We cannot rest until all Michiganders are paid fairly for the work they do. That is why we are calling on our colleagues to give our Pay Equity bills a hearing so that we can begin putting Michigan’s economy back on track.”