Mothers Day flowers nice but equal pay better

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WASHINGTON - While everyone agrees that flowers are great on Mothers Day, labor and its allies are taking the opportunity this weekend to push for things like an increase in the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work - things that would improve conditions, they say, for millions of mothers.

''In honor of Mother's Day, we thought it would be appropriate to point out a gift millions of moms would appreciate: an increase in the minimum wage," wrote Elise Gould and David Cooper in a joint article this week. The two are economists with the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute.

They noted in their blog this week that more than a fifth of working moms would get a raise if the minimum wage were increased to $10.10.

Were that increase to go into effect, a total of 4.7 million moms and their families would see an increase in wages. That's one fifth of all working moms and their families who would benefit.

Beyond benefitting as part of those families, some 2.6 million working dads, or 11 percent of the total of working fathers, would end up with a raise themselves if the minimum wage hike went through.

A variety of groups have been campaigning this week, not just for a minimum wage hike but for a variety of other pay measures that would boost the living conditions for America's mothers and their families.

The National Consumers League, for example, has been pushing for equal pay for equal work legislation, advocating for affordable child care, and demanding lawmakers pass paid sick leave bills and an end to pregnancy discrimination on the job.

All those issues affect moms, who, these days, are usually working women, too, the NCL says.

"On average, a woman makes 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. A new effort in Congress is aiming to help reduce the barriers to equality faced by women in the U.S.," the labor-backed NCL explains. "Over the course of a year, women will make significantly less than their white male counterpart: $10,784 less for a white woman, $19,575 less for an African- American woman and $23,873 less for a Latina woman.'

But that effort hit a roadblock in the U.S. Senate last month, where the GOP minority won a procedural vote that prevented senators from even debating legislation to strengthen the 52-year-old Equal Pay Act. Senate Democrats vow to keep trying to pass the new bill.

"Under current law, women often struggle to successfully sue their employers if they suspect they are victims of discriminatory workplace practices because the burden of proof needed to prove an employer has violated the law is too great," NCL said. The Paycheck Fairness Act - the measure the GOP halted - "would help reduce these barriers to equality."

Besides mobilizing its members through e-mail and tweets in favor of aiding working moms, NCL is spending its time educating lawmakers and staffers on other economic security bills including the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, the paid family leave law and raising the minimum wage.

"The pulse of the nation is longing to eliminate inequalities between the rich and poor, old and young, women and men," NCL says. "The fact that women get less money for equal work is not only a women's issue but also a family issue. A woman is the primary breadwinner in four in 10 households with children under 18."

"At a time when women contribute an increasingly growing percentage of a family's income, 71 percent of mothers are part of the labor force, a pay gap unfairly targets children in households with single mothers or where both parents work. The Paycheck Fairness Act deserves a vote in the Senate as women continue the long and steady march towards equality."

Photo: The Equal Pay Coalition NYC

 

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