Speaking of Women's Rights...: Latina Equal Pay Day: Not a Day to Celebrate

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Latina Equal Pay Day: Not a Day to Celebrate

By Gabriela Quintana

For the past six years of my life I’ve dedicated my professional life to women’s equity issues. I was an instrumental part of a team that helped develop and eventually pass a paid sick days ordinance inSeattle in 2011. Currently, it’s been all about getting a paid family and medical leave bill passed at the state level.

While having paid sick days and paid family & medical leave are crucial to the economic security of women and their families, having these two benefits is not enough—especially if you are Latina like me. Wages matter and, in the case of Latinas, we continue have a much wider gender wage gap than white women or even African American women.

According to the Economic Opportunity Institute, “Washington women who worked full-time in 2014 were paid $13,000 less than men, diminishing family budgets and undercutting community business prosperity. Women of color face especially large wage disparities. Median pay for White women in Washington is 74% of White men’s, for Black women 68%, and Latinas 48%.

“The wage gap persists at all education levels and across occupations. More women than men between the ages of 25 and 45 hold four-year college degrees in Washington, but women need those degrees to make the same amount of income as men with less formal schooling.”

It’s disheartening. According to other statistics, in Washington State it would take a Latina about three years to catch up to what a white man makes. This means that in 2019, I’ll be making what a white man makes in today’s wages. Yay.

Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, which marks the day that Latina workers finally catch up to what white, non-Hispanic male workers made last year. Yes, you read that right. Nationally, it takes Latinas 22 months to match a white male’s earnings from the prior year, according to recent United States Census data.

Economic security for women means having no wage gap, access to paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave. Show your support by voting yes on I-1433, which will lower the wage gap disparities across the board and ensure that all workers in Washington get paid sick days.

If we can get this done in 2016, then maybe in 2017 we can get paid family and medical leave passed. Just imagine!