THE LOOP — Top local politicians joined hundreds rallying at the Daley Center Tuesday in support of equal pay for women.
"Aren't we a little tired of the rallies for equal pay?" Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the crowd. "Shouldn't we just have equal pay?"
Equal Pay Day is selected to represent how much farther into the following year women have to work to make the same pay levels men make over a calendar year. President Barack Obama also spoke on the issue Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and said it was like adding six miles to a marathon.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she remembered "59 cent" buttons first championing the issue decades ago when women were making an estimated 59 cents on the dollar for what men earned. While progress has been made, she said, on average women today make 77 cents for every dollar men make for the same work.
"We will not stop until all women are paid what they deserve," Madigan said.
Gov. Pat Quinn declared Tuesday Illinois Equal Pay Day and used the issue to push for a higher minimum wage, as he said 70 percent of those making minimum wage are women.
While not at the Daley Center rally, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement saying: "Equal pay is not a women’s issue, it is a family issue, a community issue, and an issue for our entire city and country because when a person is underpaid because of their gender, we are all the poorer for it."
Emanuel applauded the president and called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which he said "will empower women with the information and resources they need to address unequal pay in the workplace."