Fox News Contributor Hypes Fiorina's False Claim That Unions Increase Gender Wage Gap

Fox News Contributor Katie Pavlich hyped Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's false claim that unions are partially responsible for the gender pay gap. But research has found that unions actually help diminish gender wage inequality, lowering the pay gap by as much as 40 percent in unionized workplaces.

Carly Fiorina Blames Unions For The Gender Pay Gap

Carly Fiorina Claims Unions Are Responsible For Gender Pay Gap. In an April 14 Facebook post, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina claimed that unions were partially responsible for the gender pay gap. Writing that although “equal pay for equal work is absolutely required,” Fiorina asserted that the main factor upholding gender pay inequality in the United States is “the seniority system” supported by "[u]nions, [and] government bureaucracies":

It is also clear, however, that the single greatest impediment to equal pay for equal work is the seniority system, which pays not on merit and not on performance, but on time and grade. We don't need increased regulation to address this issue; we need flexibility for employers.

The federal government can lead this charge by dismantling its seniority system - a system that rewards employees for time in grade, not for merit, performance or hard work. This structure systematically disadvantages women and must be reformed.

And who is it who supports the seniority system? Unions, government bureaucracies, the very constituencies that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party represent and which support them. So while the left likes to politicize this issue, they refuse to take on the seniority system and agree to pay women by merit and by their results. [, 4/14/15]

Fox News Contributor Promotes Fiorina's Claim That The Gender Pay Gap Is Caused By Unions

Fox's Katie Pavlich: “We Would Have Equal Pay If We Got Rid Of Unions.” On the August 10 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, network contributor Katie Pavlich repeated Fiorina's claim, saying that unions are responsible for the gender wage gap during a discussion of the candidate's recent debate performance. After guest Mary Anne Marsh asserted that Fiorina may have difficulty addressing issues like “having equal pay” given her poor business record, Pavlich claimed that the presidential candidate has “laid out the this issue, if you want women to have equal pay in the workforce, get rid of unions”:

MARSH: And to go back to [Fiorina's] business record, I mean, neither Steve Jobs nor Michael Bloomberg have run for president. Mitt Romney did - his  business record dogged him, and that's much more like Carly Fiorina. She not only had to fire 30,000 people and drove HP, one of the great companies, into the ground. She got a $40 million severance pay package that I think most Americans are going to have a hard time understanding as well. She got rewarded $40 million for her failure. And I don't think that's what a lot of people see these days when you look at the anger that exists both on the right and the left about fairness in the economy, job performance, getting ahead, getting a pay raise, having equal pay. I think Carly Fiorina is going to have a tough time talking about that.

PAVLICH: She's already talked about it. I mean, she's laid out this issue, if you want women to have equal pay in the workforce, get rid of unions, which is something that Hillary Clinton supports. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/10/15]

Research Shows Unions Reduce The Gender Wage Gap

National Women's Law Center: “The Gender Gap Among Union Members Is 40 Percent Smaller Than For Non-Union Workers.” A January 23 analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data conducted by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) found that unionized women have a wage gap about 40 percent smaller than their non-unionized counterparts:

Gender wage gap for union members is 40 percent smaller than for non-union workers.

  • Among union members, women working full time typically make 89.1 percent of what their male counterparts make weekly--a wage gap of 10.9 cents.
  • Among non-union workers, women working full time typically make 81.8 percent of what their male counterparts make weekly--a wage gap of 18.2 cents.

Women's union wage premium is 1.2 times as large as men's.

  • Union members typically make more per week than non-union workers--but the bonus is larger for women.
  • Female union members who work full time typically make $904 per week--32 percent ($217) more than female non-union workers who typically make $687 per week. In contrast, male union members who work full time typically make $1,015 per week--21 percent ($175) more than male non-union workers who typically make $840 per week.
  • Among women, Latina workers experience particularly high financial benefits from union membership. Among full-time workers, Latina union members typically make 46 percent more ($237 per week) than Latina non-union workers. Among African American women working full time, union members typically make 34 percent more than non-union workers--a wage premium of $202 per week. For Asian women this figure is 14 percent more ($116 per week) and for white women it is 32 percent more ($225 per week). [National Women's Law Center, 1/23/15]

Center For Economic And Policy Research: “Unions Reduce The Gender Pay Gap.” In a June 2014 report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that unions “can help to reduce the gender pay gap in at least two important ways.” Explaining that unions help to “disproportionately boost the wages of women,” the report stated that “the structure of union collective bargaining” can help narrow pay differences “both across and within occupations”:

The positive effects of unions on women's wages can help to reduce the gender pay gap in at least two important ways. First, since unions disproportionately raise wages at the middle and the bottom of the wage distribution, unionization disproportionately boosts the wages of women, who, as a group, are overrepresented at the middle and the bottom of the wage scale. Second, the structure of union collective bargaining agreements works to narrow pay differentials both across and within occupations inside unionized firms. The reduced managerial discretion and the transparency provided by collective bargaining agreements can help to counteract the negative effects of the concentration of women in lower-paying occupations and the tendency of women to be more heavily concentrated at the middle and the bottom of wage distribution within any given occupation. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 2014]