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AFL-CIO Launches Equal Pay Initiative

Bolstered by a survey showing that the average woman who works full-time earns 74.4% of what her male counterpart earns, the AFL-CIO has announced it will introduce new equal-pay legislation in at least 22 states this year to close what it calls "the gender pay gap." The survey, jointly conducted by the federation and the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Women's Policy Research, found that the wage gap causes working families to lose $200 billion a year. Statewide family-income losses due to unequal pay range from $326 million in Alaska to $21.8 billion in California. Women fare the worst compared with men in Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; they fare the best in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. The Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), Washington, D.C., an employer group, calls the AFL-CIO initiative "a blatant attempt to mislead America's workers on the gender pay issue. In fact, equal pay for equal work is already the law." The foundation says the AFL-CIO effort "really is an attempt to advance the controversial theory of comparable worth." (In contrast to the equal-pay-for-equal-work doctrine, EPF explains, comparable-worth proponents believe that the "value" of a job to an employer can be objectively measured and that a female-dominated job should rise if it is evaluated to be as valuable as a higher-paid, male-dominated job.)

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