September 21st is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day
This day marks the approximate day a Black woman must work into the new year to make the equivalent of what a white non-Hispanic man made by the end of the previous year. Based on ACS Census data, the 2021 wage gap for Black women compared to non-Hispanic white men is 58 cents. This year, Black women lag even further behind white men. Last year, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day was over a month earlier (August 3, 2021).
The Pandemic and inflation have impacted the wage gap for Black women. Black women are more likely to be essential workers. One year into the pandemic, 47% of Black women had to report to work despite having a good reason to stay home (such as due to illness or no child care) and 51% had trouble paying for essentials like food, housing, and child care. It has been widely reported that, despite reports of the economy’s recovery as COVID restrictions lift, Black women are still playing catch up with significantly higher unemployment rates.
Black women continued to be pushed toward the bottom in the workplace. This is why it is so important to register to vote and encourage our congress members to pass the “Build Back Better Act.” President Biden’s “Build Back Better Act” includes measures that would help all working families and would be especially important for Black families. The legislation would increase access to affordable housing, lower childcare costs, reduce health care costs and promote food security for children. Our IAM members feel this pain all too having dealt with disparities in the workforce as a Black female.
LaToya Egwuekwe-Smith, Chief of Staff for the Midwest Territory, remarked in the Black History February article, “Being a woman of color in a room or at a table where no one else looks like you has its own set of challenges. “My round-the-clock work ethic, being a huge stickler for the details, and keen ability to meet people where they are, while at the same time share mutual respect for every human being I come across is how I’ve been able to overcome many challenges as a leader. From a cultural standpoint of being an African-American woman, I’ve always simply stood in my truth: I’m Black. And I’m a woman. And I make no apologies for either of those two facts.” This is applicable for today’s Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.
In that same month, an article featuring Lisa Foust, National Vice President of NFFE-IAMAW, quoted her admitted facing struggles trying to advance, like having her voice heard as a Black woman. Foust’s advice for Black members starting out in the union is to “Know your value and what you bring to the table. Don’t allow yourself to be marginalized. If the door is locked, don’t quit, take matters into your own hands.” She emphasizes the value of education, which she believes “must precede any great fundamental change in society.” She emphasizes the importance of rising above politics and speaking the truth to be unshakable in the fight for workers’ rights.
This is another reason the IAM fights for fair contracts that eliminate pay gaps, and works with Constituency groups like Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) to fight for fair and equal legislation. You can learn more about CBTU here.
Fortson, Kristenn, Black women’s Equal Pay Day Underscores the widening wage gap, September 8, 2022, Retrieved from: https://blackrj.org/black-womens-equal-pay-day-underscores-the-widening-wage-gap/