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Women to rally for equal pay Tuesday at Daley Center



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Updated: May 18, 2012 9:49AM

This 108th day into 2012 marks how many days into the year a woman has to work to earn what a man earned the previous year, according to Chicago-based Women Employed and other women advocacy groups.

With women in the spotlight of the presidential campaign, local women’s organizations and civil rights groups will hold a rally here Tuesday, Equal Pay Day, to call for support of national legislation to help eliminate the gender pay gap.

In Illinois, women were only paid 76 cents to every dollar paid to a man working full-time in 2010 — 1 cent wider than the nationwide gap of 77 cents to every dollar, according to a report from the National Women’s Law Center. For Illinois women that means they are paid $11,911 less per year than men, the National Partnership for Women & Families said in a separate report.

If the gap were eliminated, full-time working woman in the state could afford to pay for groceries for more than two years, buy more than 3,100 gallons of gasoline, pay mortgage and utilities for seven more months, pay rent for 14 more months and buy family health insurance premiums for three more years. That is according to data in the National Partnership report.

“Families are increasingly relying on women’s earnings,” said Melissa Josephs, director of equal opportunity policy at Women Employed. “In most two-member households, both people are working inside and outside the home, and women are the primary or co-breadwinners in two thirds of families. So what they’re making, they need enough to support themselves and their families.”

The wage gap is wider for minorities. While white women in Illinois were paid only 73 cents to every dollar paid to a white man, black women were only paid 64 cents and Hispanic women were only paid 48 cents, the National Women’s Law Center report showed.

The gender pay gap is based on 2010 median earnings of full-time, year-round workers reported by the U.S. Census Bureau last year.

The wage gap, which has changed little in recent years, persists at all levels of education and across occupations, the National Women’s Law Center noted.

The rally, to be held at noon at Daley Plaza, is taking place, “to remind people about the continuing problem of pay discrimination against women (and) to help people understand that there are things we can do about this,” said Women Employed Executive Director Anne Ladky.

Women Employed representatives and others will be advocating passage of the national Paycheck Fairness Act at the rally. The act would amend the federal Equal Pay Act to prohibit employers from retaliating against workers if they share salary information with each other at work. It also would increase the damages allowed in equal pay lawsuits. Right now, winners of such suits can receive back pay. Under the Paycheck Fairness Act they also would be able to receive compensatory and punitive damages.

Critics of the act, have said pay disparity is linked to individual choices made by female and male workers, such as women often choosing to take time off of work to have children or care for elderly parents.

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