Monday, April 23, 2007

Equal pay for equal work

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (I Corinthians 13:11)

I was thinking of this quote from the Apostle Paul, in the context of my post over the weekend about the sacking of Jerry Trupiano and the current Red Sox debacle in the radio broadcast booth. While sports occupies more than its fair share of time in my life, often defining it and not always for the best, I want to leave the bread and circuses and get back to something more “adult” to write about.

Before moving on, however, I want to say that my posts on sports often generate some of my highest traffic at Words Matter. These posts are often the ones that get picked up by other sites and linked to, also. I’m not really sure what that means.

Our friends at the Department of Labor in Maine have some pretty provocative material about the lack of equality of women’s wages in Maine. In fact, there is quite a bit of information being funneled out on this topic nationally, as tomorrow is Equal Pay Day, when symbolically, this is the day when a woman's wages catch up to those of men wages from the previous year, or in simple terms, this is the amount of additional time from January 1st that women must work on to earn what a man’s wages are on December 31st. This gap is even greater for women of color.

Women generally do better in the northeast and the west, with Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont leading the way in New England (ranked 3, 5, and 6th nationally—the District of Columbia is numero uno). Not surprisingly, the south and in particular, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi, come in dead last on pay equity.

Maine actually scored well, falling in the middle third on median annual earnings and in the top third in number of women in professional and managerial positions.

Still, earning 77 cents for every one dollar that a man earns is nothing to do cartwheels over. Newly hired women actually earn 66 cents for every one dollar that newly hired men earn.

Here are some things that women should know about Maine law and pay equity:
  • In 1965, Maine law replaced “equal pay for equal labor” with “comparable pay for comparable labor” to reflect that women often earn less for work that is equal in skill, effort, and responsibility to the work performed by men.
  • The Maine Department of Labor enforces equal pay laws, but only after a complaint is filed.
  • Under federal law, employers cannot decrease a worker’s wage to comply with the equal pay law. They must raise the lower paid worker’s pay.
  • The Bureau of Labor Standards will assist employers who want to ensure they are practicing equal pay.

As the Maine Wage Project states, “the most effective way for women to earn equal pay is to ask for it.”

FMI about the Equal Pay Law in Maine, contact theMaine Department of Labor at 624-6400.

1 comment:

Joe said...

“the most effective way for women to earn equal pay is to ask for it.”

That's a sad reflection on society, isn't it?