Women and Minorities Disproportionately Affected by Lowered Wages and Job Losses in so-called, “Right to Work” States

St. Paul, MN— Equal rights and equal pay for women doesn’t exist in Right-to-Work Sates. Research by the Washington DC-based nonpartisan think tank, Economic Policy Institute shows a gender gap in which women’s wages are penalized further than the wage of an “average” worker. The same holds true nonwhites.

“Basically, what it means is that money is taken from the pockets of women and people of color to an even greater extent,” says Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of SEIU Minnesota Local 26. “Additionally, the public sector is the single most important source of employment for African-Americans (21% employed in this sector according to 2010 statistics) than others,” he adds.

“Women also bear the brunt of the negative effects of Right to Work Laws for the same reason—a majority of public sector jobs are held by women, especially in the fields of health care and education,” adds Carol Nieters, executive director of SEIU Minnesota Local 284. In fact, 71% of Local 284’s members are female.

According to the Economic Policy Institute:

  • Women’s wages are penalized further (4.4%) in RTW states than men’s (1.7%).
  • The wage penalty exists across all categories of educational attainment and racial/ethnic groups; however, it is higher among nonwhites, with the RTW penalty being 4.8% for blacks and 4.4% for Hispanics.
  • Latino union members earn, on average, $45 dollars more each week than nonunion Latinos, while unionized African Americans earn 30% more each week, on average, than those not in a union.
  • Women in labor unions earn $149 each week more than their nonunion counterparts.
  • “Right-to-work” laws undo the major gains unions have made in closing the gap between men’s and women’s pay. While the overall gender gap is 32% it is only 5% among men and women who are in a union.


SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, childcare, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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