Equal work, equal pay: Common sense rules

Imagine working your very best all year long. It’s probably not that hard to do.

Now think back to Wednesday and imagine, if you will, that it took you through that date to earn the same wage as the man in the cubicle next to you did in the previous calendar year. For having the same experience, putting forth the same level of effort, having the same expertise, doing the same exact work as you, that man in the next cubicle earned more money.

Why?

Well, because in this scenario, you happen to be a woman.

I would expect that scenario sparks at least a modicum of anger in those that think about it. But it’s not simply the musings of a column writer on a Saturday morning.

That scenario is the very real truth that faces women in the American job market today, the women who still earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns doing exactly the same work.

This is a crippling problem that seriously inhibits the buying power of half the working population in this country.

I wrote about this last year in this column. I know I will write about it next year, and the year after that and the year after that.

Because here’s another sad truth – this problem is not likely to go away anytime soon. I would be surprised if it was fixed during my working life. It may not even be fixed by the time my would-be daughter is old enough to begin her career. And that’s what really sparks the sense of outrage in me

There is a bill sitting in Congress right now, the Paycheck Fairness Act, that could help remedy this problem with absolutely no chance of being passed. I don’t see what has to be political about making it easier to for workers to discover pay inequities and to fix them. Wouldn’t that be better for everyone? Apparently not, according to some of our elected officials in Washington.

We should want better for the women in our lives. How can we in one breath say all people are created equal, but pay our mothers, daughters and sisters roughly three quarters of what our fathers, sons and brothers earn?

The answer is pretty simple. It’s the same reason a national arts and crafts chain can take a complaint all the way to the Supreme Court saying it is against the owner’s religious beliefs to pay for health insurance plans that cover certain types of birth control because they believe they are aborticides even though they aren’t.

It’s the same reason that company can make that claim, but apparently have no moral problem with having 75 percent of its total retirment plan assets in mutual funds that invest in companies that make actual medications used in actual abortions. (Check out the recent report from Mother Jones).

The answer is because while we say we respect women, we clearly, as a country, do not believe they are equal to men.

We do not believe they should have the fundamental right to live and breathe as men do, with total control over their bodies and the ability to earn a wage that’s the same as the one earned by the man one desk over.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal.net.