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SEPTEMBER 1, 1998   10:00 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: AFL-CIO
Naomi Walker (202)637-5093
  
AFL-CIO Launches New Equal Pay Website That Answers the Question, "How Much Will the Pay Gap Cost You?"; Women Lose Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars, Even Millions, Over Their Careers Because of Pay Gap
  
WASHINGTON - September 1 - A new Equal Pay website - www.aflcio.org/women/equalpay.htm   - allows browsers to find out exactly how much the pay gap between men and women will cost them - and what they can do about it.

The website is designed to expose the huge gap between men’s and women’s earnings over the course of a lifetime of work. The website allows browsers to enter their annual earnings, age, and education level and click instantly to find out exactly how much women stand to lose during their careers and the difference that belonging to a union makes.

The website also tells visitors exactly how many years of college education, day care, dinners out, back-to-school clothes and supplies, and weeks of vacation in Jamaica. The website provides a list of actions that visitors can take to fight for equal pay in the halls of Congress and in the workplace.

"Greater public exposure can be a powerful weapon in fighting for equal pay," said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson.

"Women in all lines of work - from clerical workers to nurses to lawyers to doctors to teachers - lose out because of the pay gap," said Gloria Johnson, President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and a vice-president of the AFL-CIO.

"The average 29-year old, college-educated woman will lose $990,000 because of the wage gap. With that money, she could have purchased 236 years of daycare for her children, had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a restaurant for the next 39 years, or taken a vacation in Jamaica for 14 years," said Karen Nussbaum, Director of the Working Women’s Department of the AFL-CIO.

"Studies have shown that the pay gap starts in childhood when little boys are paid higher allowances than little girls for household chores and continues through adulthood, crossing educational background, years of experience, and profession," according to Heidi Hartmann, the director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which analyzed the data appearing on the website.

"Fighting for equal pay for working women is one of the top priorities for the

AFL-CIO," said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson. "Equal pay is not just a women’s issue - it’s a working families issue. That’s why fighting for equal pay at the federal and state level is one of the top priorities on our 1998 Agenda for Working Families."

"We are going to keep up the heat on the issue of equal pay. We expect a lot of women to log on to this website and join our efforts to fight for equal pay on the job," said Nussbaum.

Nussbaum said that the Working Women’s Department will release a new report later this fall in conjunction with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which will be the most comprehensive report ever done on the wage gap by state, race, and gender. It will also show how the wage gap impacts families as well as individuals.

"Already, nine states have introduced equal pay legislation, and we expect to see that number double. We will work with local unions and a broad coalition of women’s, civil rights, and religious groups to push equal pay legislation at the state level and will continue to lobby Congress to strengthen existing laws and enact new legislation that provides greater protections for women workers," Nussbaum continued.

Because women earn less than men during their working lives - seventy percent of working women earn less than $25,000 each year - they have smaller savings and pensions when they retire. As a result of a lifetime of lower earnings, women are particularly dependent on Social Security - a fact which has heavy implications for the debate about how to reform the system.

In the national "Ask a Working Woman Survey" conducted last year, 94% of working women identified equal pay as their top concern. The 1996 Women’s Voices survey identified unequal pay and low pay as some of the biggest problems women face at work. Overwhelming majorities - 82% of women and 70% of men - said employers pay women less than men for doing the same work.

The AFL-CIO, which represents over 5.6 million women, is the largest organization of working women in the country.

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