Labor Day is about recognizing the contributions workers make to their communities and our state. It really can’t be overstated: Workers are the backbone of our way of life.
A thriving workforce is a sign of a strong economy and a successful society. When workers aren’t valued, we’re headed in the wrong direction—and that’s exactly what many Iowans are facing.
In recent years, decades of advances toward fair wages, working conditions and benefits have been lost to policies that are upending the principles that made our country strong, along with opportunities for Iowans to achieve the American dream.
In spite of record low unemployment, our economy has slowed to a crawl. Working families have been pushed aside in favor of corporations and profits.
Most GOP legislators and the Governor gutted the state’s collective bargaining law that ensured employees and public employers collaborated on mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace; slashed protections for Iowans injured on the job; put pensions in danger; and weakened wage and “Buy American” requirements.
The nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project sums it up this way: “Unfortunately, policy choices have put us on a road that prioritizes corporate profits over worker wages and corporate tax cuts over the public investments that allow for a strong, sustainable economy.”
The result is a growing inequality, with the rich getting richer. Meanwhile, many Iowans work multiple jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. That’s not right.
As we celebrate Labor Day, Senate Democrats remain committed to fighting for working Iowans, restoring and protecting workplace rights, and ensuring Iowa employees and employers have a fair shot at getting ahead.
On August 26, we celebrated Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
“It is a time to celebrate women leaders who have gone before us, paving the way toward increased opportunity for women,” writes Wendy Musgrave, a member of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. “However, true equality is not achieved until it is made real for women in all sectors and industries, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability or socioeconomic status.”
One way we can continue the push for equality is through equal pay.
In 2009, the Iowa Legislature approved a Pay Equity Act, outlawing wage discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to pay some workers less than others for jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility.
Nonetheless, wage inequality persists. In fact, the gap for Iowa is even higher than it is for the nation as a whole when it comes to equal pay between men and women. On average, a woman working full time in Iowa earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.
It’s even worse for women of color: African-American women in Iowa earn 59 cents for every dollar a white man makes; and Iowa’s Latina women make 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
Why should one person be awarded more purchasing power and a better standard of living for the same work? We all deserve to know our work is valued, to support our families and to get ahead.
Equal pay for equal work is simply the right thing to do. We must close loopholes that allow wage discrimination to continue. That includes allowing employees to discuss what they make with coworkers, without fear of retaliation from their employers; and narrowing the reasons an employer may pay workers different amounts.
2019 Equal Pay Days
Equal Pay Day is the date American women earn as much as men did the previous year. Here’s how much women earn per every dollar a man makes and how much longer it takes them to earn what a man does in one year: