LPI Tertulia event

Attendees gather for the first "Tertulia" event hosted by RWU's Latino Policy Institute on Nov. 20.

Nov. 20 marked this year’s Latina Equal Pay Day. In light of this nationally recognized day, RWU's Latino Policy Institute (LPI) hosted a discussion this past Wednesday about its significance during the group's newly installed event series: "Tertulia." The phrase translates to “social gathering.”  

The discussion was moderated by Sol Taubin, former policy aide for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. Taubin is an advocate for fair housing, equal pay and justice reform for Latinas. Informative handouts were distributed to everyone upon arrival and all attendees sat together in a circle for the discussion.

According to a handout provided by abetterbalance.org, key drivers within the current gender pay gap include pregnancy discrimination, unequal compensation and lack of access to paid leave. It emphasized that there are major factors within the pay gaps Latinas face, such as prejudice and anti-immigration policies. In the United States, Latinas would need to work 23 months to make what a white male makes in one year. 

Another handout was an article published by UnidosUS, the country’s largest non-profit Latino organization, titled “Beyond Wages: Effects of the Latina Wage Gap.” While Latinas have historically been a large population within workforces, they are currently battling one of the largest pay gaps among women. In national terms, Latina women are paid 53 cents for every $1 a white male makes. This pay gap remains despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which was approved in June 1963 by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It was enacted “to prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce,” according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

To bring this topic a bit closer to home, it should be noted that the UnidosUS article also included statistics published by the U.S. Census Bureau. These statistics rank Massachusetts as one of the 25 states with the biggest population of Latinas who work full time all year. Despite this ranking, the Bureau gathered that for every $1 a white man in Massachusetts makes, a Latina in the same state makes only 52 cents.

The discussion circle was made up predominantly of women. However, among the few men was Central Falls’ City Solicitor Matt Jerzyk. At the end of the discussion, Jerzyk said he felt “inspired” by the event and topics discussed. Several women mentioned feeling “fired up” and said they were looking forward to the next discussion. 

For more information regarding the Latino Policy Institute and future events, check out the organization's Twitter @LPIRWU or search Latino Policy Institute at RWU on Facebook.

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