A Labor Day Feature Event
By Marivir R. Montebon
The cost of the wage gap when compared to White men is more than 12 cents for an Asian woman, 32 cents for a Black woman, or 41 cents for a Latina. But the real cost is much higher .- Women’s Bureau, Department of Labor
New York City — Raquel Yuson kicks herself out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning, an ordeal which she does Mondays through Thursdays to complete a 40-hour work schedule as registered nurse in a mid-Manhattan hospital. “This has become my routine, plus additional hours of work when needed,” she said.
Working in the same hospital for the past 5 years, Raquel considers herself lucky for having been spared from the administration’s downsizing. She however just realized that her pay is $10/hour less than two of her male counterparts at the pediatrics department.
“That’s a total of at least $80/day pay difference. I don’t understand why this is so, because I have been working at least a year ahead of the two,” she opined.
Raquel, not wanting to antagonize her friends nor jeopardize her job tenure, decided to keep mum. She feels the silent rage over the unfair treatment, ‘though, and could not believe how being female could mean lower pay for the same nature and amount of work.
Unequal work pay, determined by gender, is prevalent in New York, the supposed bastion of economic and cultural liberalism in the US.
Having that quandary in her head, Raquel joins those whose personal issues run similar or related to hers.
In Union Square today, thousands will commemorate Labor Day by articulating labor, human rights, and other socio-political issues.
The transnational feminist group AF3IRM adds its voice to emphasize the repeated calls of shifting the central theme of economic justice for workers to a more gender-based economic and cultural justice.
“Poverty is bad enough. But when you are poor and are a woman, that is worse,” says Olivia Canlas, AF3IRM New York coordinator.
AF3IRM, identifying itself with women of color from what it defines as five continents of the world (Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America), emphasizes the feminist thought that at the core of societal change is the regard for women’s and women-identified’s rights.
“Women’s issues are still viewed as trivial. This must change. If we want economic justice that extends beyond income inequality, it is important to bring the voice of transnational women to the forefront,” says Canlas.
AF3RIM notes that women of color, particularly Latina and blacks, receive much lesser pay than the male and white female counterparts. Quoting statistics from government data (2007-2012), black women earn 64 cents and Latinas earn 55 cents compared to the dollar earned by white females or male counterparts.
The Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor establishes these research findings:
“The cost of the wage gap when compared to White men is more than 12 cents for an Asian woman, 32 cents for a Black woman, or 41 cents for a Latina.
The real cost is much higher. From the start of her career to the end of it, the average, full-time Asian working woman stands to lose about $315,000 and a full-time White working woman, $440,000 as a result of the pay gap. Black and Hispanic women stand to lose much more – about $717,000 for Black women and $854,000 for Hispanic women.vi
The ramifications of these losses during a woman’s career are enormous. It means less money to spend for food for her family, on education, and on child care. The earnings lost are felt by every household that counts on a woman’s paycheck. That’s why equal pay is not just a woman’s issue.
It is a family issue. And families in America cannot afford the pay gap.”
In a press statement, AF3IRM demands from lawmakers and employers to value the rights and lives of women workers, from the home, the office, factory, and fields to end the ‘feminization of poverty’.
“When poverty takes the face of women, we understand that poverty is not just a class or income issue. Women’s choices, economic opportunity, health and access are disproportionately impacted. Transnational women demand respect and dignity. It is time to push for a more just society,” says Canlas.