Independent Women’s Organization (IWO) Commemorates “Equal Pay Day”

NEW ORLEANS – The Independent Women’s Organization is commemorating “Equal Pay Day,” today, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, because they say it takes a woman more than 15 months, until April 14, to earn the average annual pay a man earns in 12 months. 

         While women in the United States working full-time year-round earn, on average, $.78 cents for every dollar a man earns, the pay gap for women in Louisiana is even wider. According to IWO, women earn, on average. $.66 cents for every dollar a man earns – making Louisiana’s rating for women the worst in the country.

         “Louisiana must recognize the urgency of this problem,” Lynda Woolard, President of IWO, said. “This loss is compounded over a lifetime of lower earnings and translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars for the average woman. The loss to families is also significant. More households are headed by women or rely on their salaries for essentials. The lower earnings make it hard to cover necessities like food, utilities and housing, and limit the possibility of affording college tuition, making a down payment on a home or putting aside savings for retirement. Long term Social Security and pension benefits are reduced based on a lifetime of lower income figures.”

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         “Minority women and their families feel the burden of unequal pay even more than women in general,” IWO Board Member Lisa Diggs said.  “In the latest census figures for Louisiana, African American women earned 50 cents and Hispanic women 54 cents on average for full time work. These disparities have a significant effect on the economy of the state and on government. When employers don’t pay fairly, government must step in with subsidies for food, housing and healthcare to help people survive. In this time of state budget crisis, requiring equal pay for all will have a positive effect on the state’s bottom line.”

         IWO member and former small business owner Ina Davis believes the business rationale for equal pay is very important. “Equal pay practices help a business to succeed by improving employee morale and retention,” Davis said. “They also put more money in the economy so people have more to spend in general. Capital is hard to find. A woman who doesn’t earn a fair wage while working for others might never be able to save for starting her own business.”

         According to Julie Schwam Harris, IWO Advocacy Chair, the Louisiana Legislature needs to take action. “The women of Louisiana deserve a level playing field in all workplaces, public and private,” she said. “We support legislation to end pay secrecy policies that could get a person fired for just talking about pay. How can unfair practices be corrected if no one can try to resolve them in an open, amicable way?”

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         IWO President Woolard said she is proud of IWO’s participation with a coalition supporting strengthened workplace laws in this Legislative session. “We have sixteen organizations in our coalition that support equal pay, raising the minimum wage, and establishing paid family and medical leave,” she said. “Polls show support for fairness and sensible wage policies and law. We hope men and women will contact their U.S. Senators and Congressmen as well as their state legislators about the significance of April 14 and the need for Equal Pay. They should wear red clothing and red ties as a reminder that women are “in the red” and not getting their fair share in the workplace.”

         Equal Pay Day events include:


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• Several coalition member organizations will have booths at an Equal Pay Day bake sale at the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 14. The organizations will be selling baked goods to state legislators and all who pass through the rotunda. They will be selling brownies, cookies, and other goodies for $.66 cents to women and $1.00 to men to represent Louisiana’s pay gap.


• On Thursday, April 16, the Louisiana League of Women Voters will host Louisiana Rising, an exciting day of activities which includes a rally, advocacy speakers and more at the State Capitol.


• Also on Thursday, April 16, AAUW Louisiana’s Field Director, Melodia Gutierrez, and Baton Rouge AAUW member JiJi Jonas will host an Equal Pay Unhappy Hour at 1630 Carl Ave., Baton Rouge starting at 4:30 p.m.


• Jerry Mayer of Hometown Productions will be filming during the hour between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on both Tuesday’s and Thursday’s events at the Capitol. He will air the footage on 24 cable stations across the state immediately following Thursday’s activities.



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