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Gender pay gap no closer to narrowing

Unions, Council seek stronger laws


New York may be the state with the third-lowest gender wage gap, but women still earn just 88 cents for every dollar earned by men, advocates emphasized at a rally spotlighting Equal Pay Day.

Mayor Eric Adams, members of the City Council, Communications Workers of America Local 1180, and women’s advocate groups, among them PowHer New York, gathered at City Hall Tuesday to push for stronger city and state laws to address the pay disparity.

The average woman in the state loses $11,000 in income each year because of the gap, with women of color earning as much as $34,000 less than their white male counterparts, according to Beverly Neufeld, the president of PowHER New York.

“We’re here because women have not seen the money. Women deserve our dollar; it’s the least we can do,” Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said during the rally.

Equal Pay Day, March 12 this year, represents how far into the year the average median woman would have had to work in order to have earned what the average median man had earned the previous year. But Black women’s Equal Pay Day will only be July 9, while for Latina women it won’t be until Oct. 3. 

Council Member Carmen De La Rosa, who chairs the Labor Committee and co-chairs the women’s caucus, noted that women of color earned on average 34 cents less than every dollar earned by men.

“So what are we telling women of color in our city when we’re saying you’re not worth that same dollar that your male counterpart is worth?” she asked.

Although the city and state have passed laws in recent years aimed at closing the pay gap, including laws that bar employers from asking prospective employees’ salary histories and require businesses to include salary ranges in job advertisements — more needs to be done, the advocates argued.

Gloria Middleton, the president of CWA Local 1180, believed that the city’s transparency law needs to be strengthened. She cited job listings where there was more than a $100,000 difference between the stated minimum and maximum salaries.

“Companies seem to be abiding by the wording of the law, but not the intent,” she said. “In the year 2024, there is no reason that a woman must work until March 12 to earn what a man has earned by Dec. 31 the year before.”

Call for more enforcement 

The advocates highlighted Local Law 18, a 2018 law that mandates the city to publish municipal employee pay data annually. The law came about because of a 2013 lawsuit by CWA Local 1180 charging that the city had discriminated against the women and people of color who made up a majority of administrative managers. In 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found reasonable cause to believe that the city had discriminated against workers in that title for decades. The city and union reached a $15 million settlement in 2019.

The data revealed that much of the pay gap in the city workforce was driven by occupational segregation, with Black, Latino, Asian and female employees typically over-represented in low-paying jobs.

Middleton wants to toughen the law by requiring agencies with high pay disparities “to self-correct, whether it’s through education or through civil-service classifications, to make sure that women are able to move into those higher-paying jobs,” she told The Chief following the rally. 

She also called for additional agencies and civil service titles to be included in the wage analysis — currently, salary data for NYC Health + Hospitals, the Housing Authority and pedagogical staff in the Department of Education isn’t required under the law. 

“Five years later, we are asking to have Local Law 18 strengthened,” Middleton said. The union is also seeking the creation of a high school program that would serve as a pathway to civil service, and another program for CUNY students.

State Attorney General Letitia James noted that the gender wage gap affects more than women — it has an impact on the economy. Council Member Julie Menin, who chairs the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection, stated that many women face pay gaps because they disproportionately bear childcare and elder care responsibilities.

Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers said that she and Council Majority Leader Amanda Farias plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that would expand the city’s salary transparency law by requiring employers to also disclose workers’ benefits.

“Equal pay is about more than just compensation for equal work; it’s about the idea that our work matters, that we deserve the same respect, representation and pay as our male counterparts,” she said.

The mayor said that growing up, he saw firsthand the emotional toll faced by women working more for less money — through his mother, a food service worker at a daycare, and through his sister, who worked at a bank and was often passed over for promotions in favor of newer employees.

“If we're ever going to dismantle the unfairness of what we are doing not only in government but in the private industry, this is the window of opportunity,” he said. “We are going to make it happen, and I'm proud to be a member of the club, ‘Men Who Get It.’”


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