Today we recognize Equal Pay Day, which marks the day in 2015 when the average woman could finally stop working if she was hoping to make the same amount of money the average man made last year. Last year, Equal Pay Day was on April 7th. In 2013, Equal Pay Day was on April 9th. That’s right, over the past few years the day where women finally catch up has become harder, not easier, to reach. In fact, according to a recent study the gender wage gap in this country will not close until 2058. The outlook is a little better for California, where the gender wage gap is projected to close in 2042. But this is unacceptable. Some women will never see pay equity in their lifetime.
Even more distressing is the size of the wage gap and its economic consequences for women of color, particularly in California. While white women in California earn 76 cents for every $1 a white man makes, Hispanic women and African American women earn only 44 cents and 64 cents, respectively, for every $1 a white man makes. California ranks third, only to Texas and New Jersey, for the largest wage gap for Hispanic women.
But not all hope is lost. Some members of the California legislature are taking an aggressive approach to tackling the gender wage gap this year, with three separate measures that address pay equity directly, and dozens of other bills that address women’s economic security generally. Here are the three pay equity bills to watch:
- Senate Bill 358, by Senator Jackson, will help strengthen California’s Equal Pay Act by eliminating loopholes that prevent effective enforcement and by empowering employees to discuss and inquire about pay in the workplace without fear of retaliation.
- Assembly Bill 1017, by Assemblymember Campos, will help prevent employers from preserving and perpetuating historical pay inequities by prohibiting them from asking job applicants for prior salaries. This bill will help put men and women on more of an equal footing when negotiating pay with prospective employers.
- Assembly Bill 1354, by Assemblymember Dodd, will require state contractors to submit equal pay reports to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, containing summary data of their workers’ compensation, broken down by race and gender. Simply by requiring employers to compile this data, the bill will help employers take proactive measures to ensure their pay practices are fair and equitable.
All three of these bills will be heard in their first policy committee next Wednesday, April 22nd. Call or write your state representatives and tell them to support these important bills that will help bring us closer to finally achieving pay equity in California.