A momentous day | Arkansas Blog

A momentous day


I knew April 24 was important, my wedding anniversary (31, thanks very much.) But I didn't know it was Equal Pay Day. Now I do. And so does UA Chancellor John White, who's received a letter from a union representing UA campus employees about the recent report noting a pay gap between men and women faculty members. The union asks more questions. The letter is on the jump. Should the chancellor respond, we'll pass that along, too.


Dear Chancellor White:
Today is Equal Pay Day. The date—Tuesday, April 24th—symbolizes the fact that on average, a woman must work for a year and four months to earn the same wages as a man receives in a year.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay women less than men for work that is “substantially equal,” unless the pay difference is because of legitimate factors such as seniority or experience, but wage discrimination based on sex still exists in the workplace. Now, 44 years later, a Report last week from the Financial Advisory Committee to the Faculty Senate revealed that the wage gap still exists for women faculty members--at all ranks from Instructor to Full Professor--at the University of Arkansas and that it is actually increasing.
The wage gap for women faculty members appears especially egregious at the Assistant Professor level that includes most hires within the last seven years, where seniority and experience are not significant factors. Assuming that a female Assistant Professor hired at 30 years of age remained at the University of Arkansas until retirement at age 65, the present $11,000 salary gap could be projected at $385,000 by time of retirement, even if women faculty received raises equivalent to their male colleagues.

The members of Local 965, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, representing employees at the University of Arkansas oppose sex discrimination in employment and strongly support equal pay for equal work. We were both surprised and shocked to see the documentation of salary discrepancy that exists between male and female faculty on our campus. We are committed to working with you and your administration to address and eliminate this gender-based salary gap among the faculty at the University of Arkansas.

Equal pay is not only about basic fairness; it’s also about basic family economics. The earnings of many of these working women are essential to supporting a family. For every dollar lost because of the salary discrepancy, that is one dollar less that our female faculty members have to spend on groceries, housing, child care, retirement contributions, and other family expenses--$11,000 less for female Assistant Professors.
We would be very interested in your response to the Report of the Faculty Senate Financial Advisory Committee, especially:
Are the data presented in the Report reasonably accurate, and, if not, can the administration provide more accurate data?
If the Report presents reasonably accurate data, how can you explain the significant salary gap between male and female faculty members?
If the Report presents reasonably accurate data, who was responsible for approving the initial salaries that resulted in the differential salary gap between male and female faculty?
If the Report presents reasonably accurate data, how can you explain the recent increases in the salary gap between male and female faculty?
Of the 28 upper level administrators noted in the Report, how many of those positions are held by women in each group?
Of the 28 upper level administrators noted in the Report, what are the average salaries of male and female administrators in each group?

Thank your for your time in reading this message and considering our questions. We look forward to receiving your responses to our questions and concerns and to working with you to achieve equal pay for women and fair pay for everyone on our campus.

Stephen Smith
AFSCME Local 965

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