A Call to Close the Gender Wage Gap

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Public Advocate Letitia James, who released a report that notes that the gender pay inequity hits minority women especially hard, speaks Equal Pay Day rally at City Hall on April 12. Photo by Clarence Elie-Rivera.

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

DC 37 joined Public Advocate Leticia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the advocacy group PowHer New York at the 10th annual Equal Pay Day rally at City Hall on Tuesday April 12.

Supporting equal pay for women was soccer champion Megan Rapinoe, who filed a complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation for wage discrimination. Even as the women’s team won the World Cup, the league pays female players one-fourth what male soccer players earn.

“We’re demanding economic justice because women are still in the red,” said Powher New York leader Beverly Neufeld. She and City Council members Laurie Combo and Helen Rosenthal sponsored the rally.

In April, New York state lawmakers passed nine bills that help women, including equal pay, paid parental leave — which was first proposed in 1999 — and the $15 minimum wage. “These are all pieces of the puzzle for a strong foundation for women and families,” she said.

Equal Pay Day marks the additional four months that women must work to equal the salary a man earns in a year — and it’s worse for women of color, as a recent report by Public Advocate Letitia James concludes.

“A woman in New York State working full-time makes about 87 cents for every dollar a man earns, or a difference of $6,778 in median annual income,” according to the 2014 U.S. Census.

The public advocate’s report says the gender wage gap hurts Latino, Black or African American, and Asian women, who earn less than white men in New York City — a racial disparity that is significantly larger than the rest of the country. James’ report says a pay gap exists even for women with college degrees.

James’ pay equity report recommends that city contractors disclose employees’ wages and that “the mayor issue an executive order prohibiting city agencies and private employers from requesting previous salary information of job applicants to ensure a fair playing field for women in the workforce.”

The rally’ participants included city Comptroller Scott Stringer, other City Council members and DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

“City workers are not immune to pay disparities,” Garrido said.

Garrido noted that although the city offers salary ranges for some titles as high as $30,000, too often DC 37 members who are women are paid the low end of that scale.

It would take another 30 years for women to achieve full equity and that, Garrido said, “is too long. We cannot protect a system that discriminates. We will fight until all pay discrepancies are eliminated and pay equity for women is finally achieved.”

The coalition is fighting for a bill to protect women’s reproductive rights and to expand opportunities for career advancement, availability of 24/7 quality early childhood education, flex time, and family-friendly policies to help women now and future generations of girls.

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