OP-ED: Native Women’s Equal Pay Day: Time is Long Overdue for Action

Sept. 8 marks Native Women’s Equal Pay Day. An opportunity to recognize that – across race and gender – we all deserve equal opportunity under the law and equal compensation for the work that we do.

But it’s also a reminder that for many Wisconsin women – especially BIPOC women – equal opportunity and equal compensation are not yet a reality.

No matter the job or industry, women deserve equal pay for the work they do. But, not every Wisconsin politician agrees with that.

While in office, right-wing Gov. Scott Walker repealed Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Law, removing vital protections for victims of wage discrimination.

In 2021, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson opposed legislation put forth by the Biden administration that would hold employers accountable for unequal pay practices.

Sen. Johnson inferred in a press release that women haven’t been discriminated against in the workplace since the 1960s.

But here’s the thing: Sen. Johnson isn’t doing his research. If he did, he’d know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 data shows the average woman making just 82 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

He’d also know that the National Women’s Law Center reported last year that the current wage gap will likely “cost a Native American woman nearly $1 million over a lifetime of work.”

But together, we can demand progressive change by telling these conservative politicians that equality in the workplace can’t wait. Today, call politicians like Sen. Johnson (202-224-5323) to let them know paying women what they deserve should be a baseline right, not a political battle.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives and is an affiliate of ProgressNow.