September 21st marks the date that Black women must work into 2022 to finally catch up with what white, non-Hispanic men have earned. Black women make just 58 cents for every white man’s dollar, an appalling wage gap caused by systemic racism and sexism and this country’s continued legacy of devaluing Black women’s labor.
Falling within the same month as Mom’s Equal Pay Day, this Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is an apt time to recognize how pay inequity disproportionately impacts Black moms, who are also far more likely than other mothers to serve as key breadwinners in their families and often face multiple intersecting forms of oppression. For many working women, pay inequity throughout their careers begins with or is significantly worsened by being pushed out of the workforce while pregnant. Pregnancy discrimination disproportionately impacts those most vulnerable to economic disparity already, particularly Black women working in low-wage, physically demanding jobs.
To combat this mistreatment, the Senate must pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, legislation that will form a key building block in racial, gender, and economic justice by ensuring all pregnant and postpartum workers can access the accommodations they need to maintain a healthy pregnancy without risking being pushed off the job, which often has devastating economic consequences for families of color in particular. Earlier this year alongside our partners at Black Mamas Matter Alliance, we released a joint report, “Centering the Experiences of Black Mamas in the Workplace: How The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Can Support Black Maternal Health.” The report draws from the lived expertise of Black birth workers and Black organizational leaders from nine states and highlights their firsthand experiences of how, too often, Black pregnant and postpartum workers are faced with the impossible choice between maintaining their health or supporting themselves and their families due to a lack of access to pregnancy accommodations.
It remains abundantly clear that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will help put an end to the mistreatment faced by countless pregnant and postpartum workers every day and provide crucial protections for working Black women in particular, and the bill has the bipartisan support it needs to pass in the Senate. We remain steadfast in calling on Senate Majority Leader Schumer to bring the bill to a vote this work period, and committed to working closely with our Black women-led partners in fighting for the structural change needed to dismantle the systemic oppression that causes the wage gap.