Watkins adds that gap becomes larger over a woman’s life, which affects her retirement – and the gap is even greater for women of color. In each of the past three years, the state Senate has nixed equal-pay bills – but now under Democratic control, they might have a better chance of passing. The #MeToo movement could add steam to the issue of gender discrimination as well.
Marilyn Watkins, policy director with the Economic Opportunity Institute, who testified at the Senate hearing, said women working full-time in Washington on average make $14,000 less than men each year. "That has a big impact, not only on those women, but on their families, on their children's ability to succeed and thrive, and on all of our communities,”
Without the protection of paid leave laws, workers in restaurants, retail and construction have been the least likely to have access to sick days, putting not only their own health at risk, but customers and coworkers as well.
"Men who bargain and are assertive are viewed as natural leaders while women who do the same are seen as trouble makers," said Marilyn Watkins, policy director of the Economic Opportunity Institute. Watkins said research shows 10 to 40 percent of the gender wage gap "cannot be described by any bonafide [business] factor" and is therefore the result of discrimination, whether unconscious or intentional.
In progressive Seattle, white women make 75 cents on the white male dollar, according to data from the Economic Opportunity Institute; Latina women make 51 percent, while black women make 45 percent.
Former Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, who had a front-row seat for the $15 wage debate at city hall, says SEIU’s work on the minimum wage was “necessary, but not sufficient” to pass the compromise. “[United Food and Commercial Workers] and the Economic Opportunity Institute [a progressive think tank] also played major roles, and I don’t think it would have happened without all of them,” Licata says.
“We always feel that we are being given this choice, if you want a better transit system we need to raise the sales tax, we need to raise the property tax, we need to raise the car tab fees,” Katie Wilson said. “All these taxes that are hitting the working and poor people the hardest and we have to vote to raise those taxes to get a world-class transit system.” Building on the energy generated by the 2016 election, the group partnered with the Economic Opportunity Institute to begin creating a more equitable tax system and “Trump-Proof” Seattle.
While millennials feel the gutting of the social contract in their inability to buy homes, older Americans are feeling it in their inability to retire. You have probably heard the outdated slogan that to retire, you need Social Security, personal savings and a pension. But now, most workers in our country don’t have much in savings, and traditional pensions have disappeared.
The higher profile names jump off the list include Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, former interim city council member Kirsten Harris-Talley (Harris-Talley was one of the original proponents of the employee head tax on the council), Downtown Emergency Services Center Director Daniel Malone, and John Burbank, Executive Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute—a local progressive think tank which has spearheaded efforts to establish a city income tax.
Still, there are longtime Seattleites who say it’s too little, too late. Take John Burbank, founder of the Economic Opportunity Institute, a liberal think tank. “While it has led to an economic boom in Seattle, that boom has primarily benefitted tech workers at the top and left everyone else with higher rents, higher property taxes, traffic congestion and a bitter taste in our mouths,” Burbank wrote in a blog post in September. “Amazon has been a sociopathic roommate, sucking up our resources and refusing to participate in daily upkeep.”
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