Women Make a Stand for Rights on the Job


Across the country, millions of Americans – mostly women – took to the streets on Saturday to stand up for women’s rights and greater opportunity. For many, that included equal pay.

As has been written here repeatedly, the wage gap is real. However, it is not uniform across the board. And a new study by NerdWallet found that when it comes to getting a fair shake in the pay department, women face a significant disadvantage in states with so-called right to work (RTW).

The five states with the biggest disparity between the sexes – Wyoming, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah and North Dakota – all limit the ability of unions to collectively bargain. And eight of the top 10 gender pay gap states are RTW are well. Meanwhile, seven of the top 10 states with the smallest wage gap are states that don’t impede union rights, led by New York and Delaware.

The difference between what a woman makes and what a man makes, which is 64 cents for every dollar in Wyoming, doesn’t just negatively impact female earners today. It hurts them as they try to save for retirement, as they have fewer dollars to squirrel away.

There is a way to combat such a pay divide, however. Union jobs pay more, and pay more equally. Federal data show the median wage for a working union woman in the U.S. is 92 cents for every dollar in a median working man’s wage, compared to 80 cents on the dollar in the medians of all working women and men.

And the median weekly wage for a working union woman was $928 in 2015, more than that of a non-union working man ($869) or woman ($697). The union man’s median was $1,017. The median is the point where half of that group is above that figure and half below.

As a nation, elected officials must ensure that workers, no matter what their gender, get paid the same for the same job. That’s right, just and what America is all about.