The Latina Wage Gap

latina

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

Nov. 1 is Latina Equal Pay Day– the day Latinas’ wages catch up to what white men earned in 2017.

And for the AFL-CIO constituency group Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCCLA), Nov. 1 is a day of action to call for pay equity and economic justice for Latinas.

Across America, Latina mothers on average are paid just 46 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers. In New York, Latinas earn on average less than $34,000 annually while white non-Hispanic men earn around $74,000.

Latinas represent about 16 percent of the U.S. workforce.

The astounding wage gap is a grim reminder of longstanding gender- and race-based income disparities. But data show Latinas, like other women who belong to unions, are paid better than nonunion workers.

Income disparity and poverty

A growing number of women are sole providers of food, clothing, shelter and other essentials for their families. Income disparities shortchange them and their children, and relegate families to live in poverty.

Pay equity is a real issue for women regardless of education level or occupation, according to a 2018 report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“We will continue to fight until all pay discrepancies are eliminated and pay equity for women is finally achieved,” says Carmen Flores, chair of the DC 37 Latino Heritage Committee. Photo: Mike Lee

No matter the profession, pay gaps exist for women overall and are greater for women of color. Women of color are more likely to experience discrimination at work on the basis of both gender and race which compounds economic disparities. Latinas who are accountants, financial managers, software developers or secretaries are likely to earn significantly less than their white male coworkers; salaries can differ by $100,000 a year or more. The same is true with Black and Asian women.

Stringer’s study concludes that over a 40-year career, a full-time employed Latina in New York City would lose over $1.6 million dollars in wages because of gender- and race-based pay disparities. She would have to work another three decades to attain the same lifetime earnings as a white male in the same job.

Last April, state lawmakers passed nine bills that help women gain equal pay, paid parental leave, and a $15 minimum wage. DC 37 members’ current economic pact includes a provision to opt into the New York State paid family leave program.

The union advantage

“When workers come together, we fare better,” said Carmen Flores, chair of the union’s Latino Heritage Committee. “We will continue to fight until all pay discrepancies are eliminated and pay equity for women is finally achieved.”

Union members typically earn more per week than non-union workers. The advantages of belonging to a union are greater for women, especially for Latinas—both in percentage terms and in real cash, according to a recent study by the National Women’s Law Center, www.nwl.org.

Among full-time workers, Latina union members typically earn 36 percent more per week than Latina nonunion employees.

To support LCLAA’s day of action Nov. 1 in Atlanta, Ga., and on social media, click here.

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