On June 1, the JWFNY advocacy committee met with Bev Neufeld from PowHer NY to discuss women’s economic equality in New York. Still in 2015, in the US women on average are paid 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. In New York the wage gap is 84 cents to every dollar, which is better but not enough.
As Jewish woman herself, Neufeld began the meeting citing Leviticus 27:3-4 which states “the value of a male will be fifty shekels of silver and thirty for a female.” Gender pay gap is thousands of years old – but that has not stopped Ms. Neufeld from devoting her life to securing women’s economic equality in New York.
The group discussed the problem of unequal pay and the devaluation of women’s work. “Unequal pay still exists,” Neufeld explained “because job titles performed predominately by women are underpaid and undervalued.” On average, NY women lose over $8500 per year, and between $450,000 to a $1,000,000 over the course of a career. The problem must be solved from the inside by working with employers to reduce the gender wage gap and secrecy around salaries. At the same time, we must work to change the surrounding culture to value women’s work.
Two-thirds of wage workers are women and they are also the majority of the workers making minimum wage. The group discussed the New York Times expose of nail salons and workers’ rights. PowHer NY distributed palm cards of the “Top Five Things to Ask when Entering Nail Salons,” including “Are workers paid at least the minimum wage and overtime?” and “Is there adequate ventilation (no strong chemical odors)?” Consumers now have the Bill of Rights for Nail Workers on the tips of their manicured fingers.
Ms. Neufeld remains steadfast and hopeful. In June, the New York State Equal Pay Bill is expected to be written into law. JWFNY, a member of the PowHer NY Network, New York Women’s Equality Coalition, and New York Women’s Agenda Equal Pay Coalition NYC, advocates for and supports equal pay. A JWFNY grantee, A Better Balance, has put together a Fact Sheet on Equal Pay in New York that provides an overview of how the law will strengthen existing laws.