Dissecting pay disparities in Illinois’ government unions
Charges of unequal pay and opportunity should first be applied to some of those delivering the accusations.
April 14 is Equal Pay Day, a day meant to highlight the inequality between men and women’s pay in America. With myriad opinions and talking points on the debate over how income inequality plays a role in the U.S. economy, figuring out where reality and discrimination intersect is murky at best.
According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, a group that promotes Equal Pay Day, women have to work up to April 14 to catch up to what men earned for 2014. It claims women make only 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. Illinois’ supposed pay gap is just a tad smaller with women making 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Illinois’ government unions have been a major voice in the call for new laws and regulations demanding equal pay in the workplace. But how do these major voices in the debate perform themselves on ensuring pay equality for their own members?
According to Bloomberg BNA and U.S. Census Bureau data, government unions are not immune to pay-gap problems for their women and minority members.
Women make up 58 percent of government-union membership in Illinois. But despite this majority, women union members earn 29 cents less for every dollar earned by their male union colleagues. On average, that equals $363 less in weekly pay.
The difference in pay for men and women could be caused by a number of reasons: different levels of education, different work hours, workplace needs and circumstances; or unfortunately, even discrimination. While it’s difficult to tell the real cause, these figures illustrate that some of the same charges being delivered about equal pay and opportunity should first be applied to some of those delivering the accusations.
These disparities in pay for government-union members are not unique to women. The average weekly pay for white male public union members is $1,237, Asian males stand at $1,018, black females at $910, Hispanic females at $831 and Asian females represent the lowest average pay at $801 a week.
The battle to create and strengthen an economy where well-paying jobs are plentiful is one that touches almost every family at some point in America. Enacting policies that cut red tape to start a business and reduce unnecessary and unfair regulations are critical to ensuring that both men and women of every race can find a job and become successful.
The debate surrounding how to grow our economy and ensure freedom and fairness often heats emotions to a fever pitch. To ensure the debate is fair, it is important for the media, the public and policymakers to be asking Equal Pay Day advocates: Are they willing to hold themselves and their allies up to the same standards?