Equal pay for women and fully valuing women’s work – both in the paid economy and as family caregivers – are critical to rebuilding economic security for working families. That was the clear message from last Thursday’s forum at Kirkland City Hall, cosponsored by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Washington’s Work and Family Coalition, Economic Opportunity Institute, MomsRising, and the YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County.
“Too many women face economic insecurity. That’s why we’re here today,” said Congresswoman DelBene. She challenged Congressional leadership to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act, of which she is an original cosponsor, up for a vote in the House of Representatives. DelBene is also a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act.
Adriana Hutchings described trying to put herself to college while being paid less than a male colleague in the same job, despite her higher level of experience. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner of MomsRising explained that motherhood is a leading predictor of unequal pay.
Marilyn Watkins of EOI noted that the typical woman in King County earns $15,000 less a year than the typical man. With up to 40% of the wage gap unaccounted for by factors such as job title, qualifications, or hours of work, policies like the Paycheck Fairness Act are important. But to address the other 60% of the wage gap, we will have to do more, including expanding Paid Sick Days laws and moving forward with Family and Medical Leave Insurance. Watkins challenged city and state policymakers to continue Washington’s long history as a leader in women’s equality.
The spirited audience included state Representatives Tana Senn, Judy Clibborn, Cyrus Habib, and Roger Goodman, along with Larry Springer’s legislative aide. All five voted for the Paid Sick and Safe Leave bill that passed in Washington’s House in January, before dying in the state Senate. Habib and Matt Isenhower, also present, are both candidates for the state Senate who could change the balance of power in that chamber in 2015.
Also participating in the forum were three Kirkland City Councilmembers, and community members from AAUW, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP, Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, Teamsters, SEIU, Machinists, Women’s Funding Alliance, and other organizations.
For photos, check out Equal Pay and Working Families album on the Washington Work and Family Coalition’s Facebook page and read live Tweets from the event here.