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Poloncarz points out continuing issue of pay equity on National Equal Pay Day

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Tue, Apr 12th 2016 02:40 pm

County executive joins Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, partners in renewing call to end pay discrimination between genders

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Beth Curtis, chairwoman of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, to draw attention to the issue of income inequality between genders and stridently call for the end of such discrimination.

Today is National Equal Pay Day, a date that symbolizes how far into 2016 women must work to earn what men earned in 2015. Many women today still experience pay inequity in the workplace firsthand; on average, women still make 78 cents for every $1 made by a man, a disparity that increases for women minorities. The pay equity issue remains in the national spotlight after five members of the U.S. women's national soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation earlier this month.

"The time for pay equity between genders is long past, but the shameful reality remains that our wives, daughters, mothers and sisters are still the victims of wage discrimination today," Poloncarz said. "In 2014, I signed an executive order mandating compliance with the Equal Pay Act for all vendors seeking business with Erie County, and we passed such a policy in 2015 at the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. However, we must continue to speak out on this issue as long as it persists. It is a disgrace that, in 2016, women are still only earning roughly three-quarters as much as their male counterparts. Women make up 52 percent of the population of Erie County and are essential and irreplaceable parts of our workforce. We must all work together and continue the fight to end wage discrimination against them."

Curtis added, "I have personally experienced gender-based wage discrimination, but I didn't realize it until years later. This is why getting the word out about pay equity is so important to me. There are women out there who don't even know this is happening to them."

The recent legal action by the U.S. women's soccer team cited figures from the USSF's 2015 financial report, claiming that, despite the women's team generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team, the women are paid about a quarter of what the men earn.

Pay Equity Day was established in 1996 to shed light on the gender wage gap, and is held on a Tuesday in order to demonstrate how far into the week a woman must work in order to make the same pay that was earned by her male colleague the week before. In the City of Buffalo alone, if the average working woman were paid at the same rate as her male counterparts, she would be able to afford 102 more weeks of food (two years' worth), 11 more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 20 more months of rent, or more than 3,400 additional gallons of gas. Nationally, gender pay equity could grow America's economy by as much as 9 percent, and, if single mothers were paid comparably to men, their poverty rates would be halved.

The Erie County commission is collaborating with the American Association of University Women, the Junior League of Buffalo, WNY Women's Foundation, StaffBuffalo LLC and Big Ditch Brewing Co. to offer an "unhappy hour" in honor of Pay Equity Day. That event begins at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Big Ditch Brewing Co., 55 E. Huron St., Buffalo.

The purpose of this "unhappy hour" is to raise awareness on the issue of pay equity and to celebrate the progress accomplished in New York through collaborative advocacy efforts. The event is an informal networking opportunity for women and men who care about equity for women and want to demonstrate support for their wives, mothers and daughters.

This event is free and open to anyone over the age of 21. Groups that serve women and girls are encouraged to attend and bring literature from their organization. Women will enjoy discounted drinks, representing the disparity in pay between genders. All attendees who wear red, the color of pay equity, will be entered into a special door prize drawing. Reservations can be made at http://bit.ly/1U4capO.

For more information on the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, visit http://www2.erie.gov/csw/.

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