Speech at

"Rally to end the gender & race pay divide"

sponsored by Radical Women

April 8, 2014, "Equal Pay Day," Seattle, WA

By Ann Rogers for Radical Women

Hello everyone, I am glad to see there are people who are concerned about the disparity between the wages of women from that of men.

First, I want to say that I am appalled that it is still necessary for us to protest this disparity. In 1983 I attended a forum sponsored by Seattle Radical Women that addressed this very issue. That forum was titled "Equal Pay for Equal Work based on Comparable Worth." In that forum I learned that at that time the disparity was $.73 for women compared to $1.00 for men. Now they say the gap is $.77 compared to $1.00 for men. In 31 years women have gained $.04 in the wage disparity. Should we celebrate?

This is not the fault of male workers. Through the years women have proven they are capable of doing any job that men do, in the non-traditional jobs in construction, all trades, police, firefighting and the military. The corporate owners use this fact to threaten men who ask for better pay as do the managers of public services. This same concept is used to threaten white men of being replaced by lower paid minority workers. A huge example of that is Boeing, which with the help of the Democrat governor of Washington state, other city politicians, and mainstream media, was able to decimate a good ongoing union contract and replace it with one that wipes out future pensions, lowers wages for new hires and adds years to the time it takes to reach journeyman status. If women gain any ground in the wage gap in our capitalist economy system it will probably be because men’s wages have been lowered.

The old myth that men need more pay because they are the primary wage earner supporting a family has certainly been proven false in this day and age. A huge section of the workforce is made up of single mothers and grandmothers raising families of children. Added to that, the latest statistics show that due to the recession and other factors that a growing number of women in two parent households are the primary wage earners for the family. I remember that during my growing up years during the Great Depression my mother was able to get jobs more often than my Dad.

OK, let's talk about comparable worth. You may see people working outside in the elements doing heavy work and wonder why anyone working at a desk inside should be paid the same. Without those working inside at desks and computers the workers in the field would not have schedule of where to go or what to do when they got there . And the desk worker is just as responsible to getting the worker to the right place with the right instructions under the safest conditions as the field workers themselves. Other occupations filled primarily by women such as teachers are totally undervalued by our capitalist system in spite of the fact that they are the ones that are responsible for teaching students the knowledge and skills that will make them educated enough to be the workers that will do the work that is necessary for corporate profits. Washington state voters voted to raise teachers wages close to four years ago but the state legislature has never honored the vote or given teachers the raise.

In my years as a worker and a retiree I have seen only decline in respect for workers and the work they do. This fosters cynicism in young and older workers and makes them wary about what is going to happen to them next. I believe the capitalist system has outlived its useful progression and has now entered a destructive era. Destructive to the environment, people's safety and the right to a healthy and meaningful life. The only way to stop the money consuming wars and other capitalist destruction and misery is to change the economic system. This means a revolutionary change to socialism.