|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.
website is designed to expose the huge gap between mens and womens 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 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 Womens 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 Womens Policy Research which analyzed the data appearing on the
"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 womens issue - its a working
families issue. Thats 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 Womens Department will
release a new report later this fall in conjunction with the Institute for Womens
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
"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 womens, 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,"
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 Womens 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.