April 17 is Equal Pay Day. That date marks the amount of time women must work each year before their pay catches up with men’s compensation for the same job. The signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act in 2009 helped, as that legislation provided victims of discrimination a broader timeframe in which to seek legal remedies. However, it did not actually require the pay gap to be narrowed or eliminated.
Now, we commemorate Equal Pay Day for a variety of reasons. For one, 77 cents on the dollar is not an acceptable rate at which to compensate women. NASW supports equal pay for equal work. Secondly, if attention is not called to this problem, the evidence suggests that it won’t cure itself. While women’s wages have gradually crept upwards, only concerted action can possibly result in real change.
Social Worker Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will likely face former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) in the general election. Hoekstra recently stated that equal pay for equal work is nothing more than a “nuisance”. Perhaps if Hoekstra were a woman trying to make ends meet, he’d see it as much more than a mere nuisance.