Equal Pay: How Women's Soccer Can Do What Congress Can't

Equal Pay: How Women's Soccer Can Do What Congress Can't

The US Women’s Soccer Team may be the most talented, hard-working, in-synch group ever assembled.

We are lucky to have them representing our nation and the sport is lucky to have them as ambassadors. Now they are about to have a huge influence on social issues. Especially pay equality for women.

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Are we still talking about equal pay?

Count me in!  One more person who can’t stop talking about the USWNT -- and the impact they are having on the world.

This team may be the most talented, hard-working, in-synch group ever assembled. We are lucky to have them representing our nation, the sport is lucky to have them as ambassadors, and we know it -- they are going to have a huge influence on social issues. Especially pay equality for women.

The US women’s team have earned $90,000 in bonuses for reaching the World Cup quarter-finals, a sum that would be six times higher were they entitled to the same bonus structure as their men’s counterparts.

-The Guardian June 28, 2019

Are we still talking about that?

YES, we are! Why is it so difficult for employers in general (and monopolies like FIFA, MLS Soccer, and most other sports leagues) to equalize pay? By now we all know that pay inequality is unfair, unacceptable, and in most cases, illegal. Among the many injustices being experienced today, one thing is for sure, underpaying anyone because of gender, minority status, sexual orientation or any other irrelevant bias is unacceptable. 

Source: The Guardian

Source: The Guardian


But didn’t Congress pass the Paycheck Fairness Act? 

Since 1979 the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of women's and civil rights organizations, labor unions, and educational associations has been working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity. The group is chaired by Michele Leber, a remarkable 80-year-old and the inventor of “Equal Pay Day.”  Coming up on March 31, 2020, Equal Pay Day marks the extra days it will take for an average woman in America to make as much as their male counterparts did during 2019. Horrendous. https://www.pay-equity.org/day-kit-activities.html

There are many organizations working to close the wage gap that still exists between women and men -- and between people of color and white men. I encourage you to reach out and support their work. In New York State we are fortunate to have PowherNY, a formidable and inclusive network committed to securing economic equality for all New York women. 

Over a working lifetime, the wage disparity costs the average woman $700,000 to $2 million.

Not sure where to begin if you don’t live in New York? Start with the Coolest Charity In The World The Week, 9to5 the National Association of Working Women. 9to5 is one of the largest organizations of working women in the US, dedicated to putting working women's issues on the public agenda and improving conditions for all families. What exactly does that mean? Since 1973, 9to5 has taken on governments and employers to make sure that we all receive the benefits and equal treatment that makes going to work tolerable and fair -- especially for women. 

March 31, 2020
Equal Pay Day 

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But didn’t Congress pass the Paycheck Fairness Act? 

Imagine that. A perfectly logical and rational piece of legislation that "punishes employers for retaliating against workers who share wage information, puts the justification burden on employers as to why someone is paid less and allows workers to sue for punitive damages of wage discrimination" has been stuck in Congress since 1997, wrote Ramsey Cox and Alexander Bolton in The Hill. (Sounds as easy as approving the Equal Rights Amendment that Congress started debating in 1923 and still hasn’t passed, but dont get me started on that issue.)

When President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, women made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men. In 2012, women earned 77 cents to men's dollar, a narrowing of the wage gap by less than half a cent a year. Today, according to Payscale.com, the women earn 79 cents to men’s dollar. Over a working lifetime, this wage disparity costs the average American woman $700,000 to $2 million.

9to5.org’s advocacy work on behalf of working families is needed today as much as than ever. They fight for paid equal pay, availability of jobs with decent wages, and strong safety nets to support working families. Leadership training and community activism by 9to5 is empowering women -- especially those in low-wage jobs -- to bring about real change.

In case you have trouble remembering 9to5 the National Association of Working Women, it’s easy enough to remember 9 To 5. that 1980 film starring Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin, and Jane Fonda. IMBD categorizes 9to5 as a “comedy” and Rotten Tomatoes sums it up as “Three female office workers become friends and get revenge against their boss, a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot, and in so doing create a more efficient and pleasant work environment.” 

That a movie from 1980 could portray a utopian vision for working women that is still just as utopian (and fictional) in 2019 feels depressing, but that seems to be the case for 9 to 5.  -Hazel Cills, Jezebel, March 2019

It’s no accident that the organization and the film have the same name. 9to5 co-founder Karen Nussbaum knew Jane Fonda from the peace movement in the 1970s. In 1975, after the Vietnam War ended, “Jane wanted to make a contribution to 9to5 in the best way she knew how which was to make a major motion picture” said Nussbaum. “Her genius about this was understanding that it had to be real. It had to really reflect the way women talked, what their issues were, how they felt about it. And it couldn’t be didactic. That it had to be a comedy. That the only way to bring people into it was by poking fun.”

Earlier this year, Hazel Cills wrote in Jezebel that women haven’t seen much improvement in working conditions since the 1980 film release. Going issues by issue, from onsite daycare, equal pay, union busting, discussing wages, sexual harassment, job sharing and flexible work schedules her critical conclusion is this, “while glitzy industries like Hollywood are having a reckoning, the same can’t be said for women working at the Ford factory, in households, or McDonald's, or on American farms.” We may choose to skip a sequel to the 9 to 5 film, but our support of 9to5 the National Association of Working Women is still badly needed. 

A few weeks after Hazel Cills’ 9 to 5 column was published, 9to5.org co-founder Karen Nussbaum and Ellen Bravo screened the old 9 to 5 film for an audience of contemporary working women and shared what they heard. “For lower-wage workers today, jobs often come with either too few hours or mandatory overtime. According to Paula, the entry-level workers in her firm all had to get second jobs. Long hours plagued women at all levels. Pay for all workers has been stagnant since the film came out in 1980, while benefits have declined. All new wealth is ending up in the pockets of the very wealthy. “

The class-action lawsuit filed by USWNT against US Soccer may take years to resolve. It alleges institutionalized gender discrimination, with the gap in compensation between the men and women serving as a central part of the argument. Both parties have agreed to take the complaint to mediation, and by avoiding court the solution may lack the authority to persuade other employers to feel compelled to comply. All the more reason to continue our hard advocacy for working women in the US and everywhere. 

Donations to 9to5 the National Association of Working Women are tax-deductible and can be made at https://9to5.org/. For more information please use the link above or contact the author at CoolestCharity.org

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