Position – Economic Justice
May 26, 2018
All people in our country must have the right to secure the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, and a safe environment with economic security.
Economic justice is an essential component of social justice. The individual serves the economy, and the economy must serve the individual, regardless of economic status, race, disability, gender, or gender identity.
There is a growing wealth gap in the United States. The top one percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Low-wage workers are the most affected by income disparity.
Job creation, increased wages and non-discriminatory practices are required to produce viable living standards for low-wage workers, including working families, women heads of household with minor children, and minority group members.
Despite civil rights law, wage discrimination persists. Race and gender pay equity must become the norm. For example, a woman working full time typically earns about 80 cents for every dollar a male worker earns; Black women earn 63 cents; Hispanic women earn 54 cents, and Native Americans earn 57 cents. Forty-two percent of mothers with children under age 18 are their family’s primary or sole wage earners. Over a 47-year career, a woman’s total estimated earnings loss compared with men is $700,000 for a high school graduate, $1.2 million for a college graduate and $2 million for a professional school graduate.
Approximately four percent of the U.S. workforce identifies as lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender or questioning. Yet they face widespread discrimination in the workplace. Twenty-one percent of LGBTQ employees report discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions or pay.
Because of the frailty of their economic status, our poorest people are forced to borrow money for short-term or educational needs at very high interest rates. For example, an average payday or car title loan costs $17 for every $100 borrowed. This translates into an annual percentage rate (APR) of 445% for a two week loan. The average borrower ends up paying more in interest than the original loan amount.
OUR ADVOCACY POINTS
To adjust the gender pay gap, elected officials need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that would expand the scope of the Equal Pay Act with incentives for employers to follow the law, strengthen penalties for violations, and prohibit retaliation against workers asking about wage practices.
To address pay inequity affecting women and minorities, elected officials need to pass the Pay Equity For All Act that would prohibit employers from asking about wages of a prospective employee before making a job offer.
To address the minimum needs of low-wage workers, elected officials must support a livable wage and the right to organize. Everyone deserves an opportunity to earn wages that cover basic necessities such as food, shelter and health care. The right to organize is essential to giving workers the means to secure fair wages and benefits.
To allow local governments to address minimum wage issues, elected officials should respect municipalities’ decisions to raise the minimum wage and provide for workers’ benefits. Recent actions to do so in Missouri have been overturned by the state legislature.
To protect employees from gender-based discrimination, members of the LGBTQ community must be free from harassment and work place discrimination.
To protect the poor from the cycle of debt, elected officials must address the unfair practices of predatory lending, such as payday and title loans and loans to finance courses offered by unscrupulous educational institutions.