Equal Pay for Latinas

Equal Pay for Latinas is Still An Issue in 2020

The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, but over 55 years later, we have yet to see equality when it comes to what Latinas are being paid.  Equal pay for Latinas is still an issue, and that is unfair. The only way we can push through this injustice is to get informed about the facts, share this information so we are all empowered, and demand change through protest and political change. Latina Equal Pay Day is on October 29, and what better way to further the cause of equality than to inform Latinxs on what has been happening to our people for decades? Here are some important information to know about Latina wages vs everyone else’s, and what can be done to right this wrong.

Let’s start with the law that was supposed to grant us all equal pay. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into effect by President John F. Kennedy, and states that:

“No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Act of 2009 was another way to further ensure women would finally get paid what men do.

However, loopholes in the system have allowed women to be paid less than men for the same job. In fact, a woman working full-time is only paid 77% of what a man is paid for the same exact work. African-American women are paid 64 cents for every dollar a white man makes, while Latinas make 55 (and an average of 47 cents in Calfornia in 2019). To put this into perspective, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Latina would have had to work 11 months into 2019 in order to make what a white non-Hispanic man made in 2018.

How is this happening, especially when Latinxs make up the majority of residents in California, and have a large presence in other states such as Arizona, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, and Florida? Our numbers, as the AAUW Action Fund pointed out, mean influence and power, both at the negotiating tables at jobs, as well as at the voting polls. We have to unite, work together, and demand change.

We have to make our voices heard. Find out the typical salaries for the jobs you are interested in, and negotiate your salary with employers. Be transparent with fellow workers on pay, organize with them, and protest if necessary for fairness. Call out companies who aren’t on board with pay equality and applaud and highlight those that are. Sign petitions and elect officials into office who are interested in fighting for both women and POC to get equal pay.

Learn as much as you can about the facts and share them with your network. If not, we are just waiting around for the pay gap to close at its projected time–in 257 years.

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V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi is a writer at BoldLatina, Refinery29, LatinaMedia.co, and Mission Local. Her work focuses primarily on fashion, beauty, and Latinx culture. She has also written on San Francisco for a number of publications including the San Francisco Examiner, Bob Cut Mag, 7x7, and The Bold Italic. Alex recently co-founded the Latina Writers community.