Demonstrators Call For Fair Wages On 'Equal Pay Day'

Apr 12, 2016

Women rally in Market Square downtown for fair pay on "Equal Pay Day."
Credit Women & Girls Foundation of Western PA / Facebook

Fifty-six years after the Equal Pay Law took effect in Pennsylvania, politicians and advocates gathered in Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to call attention to the continuing pay disparity in the state and nationwide.  

According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for fairness in the workplace, nationally, women are paid 79 cents for every dollar men make. In the Pittsburgh region, the gap is 75 cents compared to every dollar for men, according to the Women and Girls Foundation

The wage gap is even wider for black women, who are paid 60 cents for every dollar men make.

Lynsie Clott works at Magee Women’s Hospital in the International Outreach Department and went with a group of her students to learn more about civic activism in America.

Clott said the skills women are expected to take up as their profession put them at a disadvantage in the workforce.

“We’re kind of encouraged to take career paths that are more towards the social sciences, social services,” she said. “And those industries, I would say, are feminized industries, you could say. And so they tend to have less economic value.”

Sara Ruiz was laid off at McDonalds and has been looking for work for three months. 

Ruiz said because of their gender, women are discouraged from certain industries that could make them more money.

“I do feel like the mindset of a lot of people are that women are supposed to have, like, the serving jobs and stay at home and men are supposed to be working in the factories or construction,” Ruiz said. “And it’s not fair.”

Democratic State Senator Rob Teplitz of Dauphin County is sponsoring an amendment to Pennsylvania's Equal Pay Law that would increase protection for employees who have filed a complaint against an employer and prohibiting retaliation against workers for discussing their wages.

Language for both the state House and Senate amendments were referred to their respective Labor and Industry committees in 2015. Neither have moved since.