Tuesday, March 9, marks Asian-American Women’s Equal Pay Day. While many of these workers thrive in the economy, thanks in part to lucrative union contracts negotiated by the IAM, others, who are often unorganized, struggle and are paid far less than men on the job. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, the average Asian woman in the U.S. is typically paid $0.90 for every $1.00 earned by white male counterparts. The disturbing pay gap could ultimately amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.

“These sobering statistics are frustrating and need to be addressed,” says Director of the IAM Women’s and Human Rights Department Carla Siegel. “The Machinists Union bargains for great wages that’ve uplifted working women for decades. But there’s still lots of work to do in non-union sectors.”

According to data by National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, an average Guamanian woman only makes $0.66 for every dollar earned by her white male coworkers. Hawaiian women make even less averaging of $0.63. Siegel says the solution is simple: “Unions ensure all workers, no matter the gender, are paid fairly. We should be equally paid for the same job classification.” 

The IAM is also addressing the problem by partnering with union constituency groups such as the Asian Pacific Labor Alliance, an organization that has been fighting for worker rights since 1992. Additionally, the Machinists Union broke racial barriers in 1964 when it endorsed the late Rep. Patsy Mink, a democrat from Hawaii. With the support of the IAM, Rep. Mink, a Japanese-American from Maui, would serve in Congress for almost 25 years where she’d become a powerful advocate for gender pay equality.

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