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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Issue of the Week: Equal Pay Day

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Tuesday, April 17, was "equal pay day," which, unfortunately, doesn't mean that it's the day when both men and women are paid equal wages.

It actually means that women would have to work all of 2011 and up through April 17, 2012, to earn as much as a man did in 2011 for the same work.

Although Republicans are dismissive of the gender wage gap and Gov. Scott Walker signed a law two weeks ago that rolls back protections for women who have discriminatory bosses, the effect of the wage gap is real. And it creates long-lasting damage.

According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), the typical working woman in Wisconsin earned only 78 cents to every man's dollar in 2010. The gap is even bigger for African-American and Hispanic women.

Even worse? A woman who gets an education and works her way up the ladder will still earn less than her male peers.

"The gap persists at all levels of education," NWLC found in a study published this month. Women with a high-school diploma or a bachelor's degree earned only 67 cents to their male counterparts' dollar.

"In fact, the typical Wisconsin woman who has received a bachelor's degree still isn't paid as much as the typical Wisconsin man who has completed some college or attained an associate's degree."

The wage gap exists across occupations, too. Wisconsin women in management, business and financial occupations were only paid 71 cents to their male peers' dollar. Women in sales and related occupations were paid only 65 cents to their male peers' dollar.

The gender wage gap has an immediate effect on a woman's household budget. But it also means that women will have less money for retirement—and women live longer than men. Women will be forced to work longer, and have a lower quality of life, simply because of their gender.

Unfortunately, Republicans in power aren't doing anything to help women get paid fairly. Instead, they're helping discriminatory employers get away with illegal, unethical practices.

Heroes of the Week: River Cleanup Volunteers

Milwaukee Riverkeeper is an award-winning environmental group dedicated to protecting water quality and wildlife habitats in the river corridors and advocating for sound land use in the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic river watersheds. Their core programming involves patrolling, monitoring and advocating on behalf of local waterways.

On Saturday, April 21, Milwaukee Riverkeeper will sponsor its 17th annual Spring River Cleanup. From 9 a.m. to noon, hundreds of volunteers will visit dozens of area parkways to remove trash and debris from the riverbanks. Milwaukee Riverkeeper will provide T-shirts, trash bags and gloves to all participants, and host a post-cleanup party at Major Goolsby's (340 W. Kilbourn Ave.).

Pre-registration is not required, but it does help Milwaukee Riverkeeper plan how many resources to allocate to each cleanup site. For a list and map of locations, visit www.milwaukeeriverkeeper.org. For more information, call 414-287-0207 ext. 6.
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