Equal pay for women battle gains traction in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing an equal pay law to close the gap between men and women in New York State. (Getty Images)
Gov. Cuomo is pushing an equal pay law to close the gap between men and women. (Credit: Getty Images)

The decades-long fight for women’s equal pay in New York is finally gaining traction, spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo and encouraged by his supporters.

Cuomo made women’s pay equity one of the 10 goals in the Woman’s Equality Act he announced over the weekend — and a recent Quinnipiac survey showed many New Yorkers stand with him. Fifty-three percent of those polled said that equal pay for women should be the highest priority for the state legislature, with another 36 percent saying it should be a high priority. Only 10 percent considered it lower priority.

A report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in December indicates that in 2011, New York State female full-time wage and salary workers made median weekly earnings of $760 — or 85 percent — of the $894 median weekly earnings for their male counterparts.

Beverly Neufeld, the director of the Equal Pay Coalition NYC, believes now is the time for pay equity reform.

“There is talk on all state levels about economic security, understanding that women are a driving force in the economy and businesses do better when they have routine loyal and committed workers,” Neufeld said.

Elizabeth Mason, an employment lawyer in Manhattan currently represents a client who was overlooked for a promotion. Although she had as many work responsibilities and was more educated than her male co-worker, she made significantly less money.

“It was very clear from the supervisor’s comments, and even the male individual, that she was not being treated equally and fairly because of her gender,” Mason said.

This case and others got Mason thinking about the reasons pay equity hasn’t already been enacted.

“From a pragmatic standpoint, the reason why there is this feeling of unequal pay is because employers have been allowed to get away with it due to an employee’s inability to know what her co-workers are making. Until the playing field is leveled, women employees are a distinct disadvantage,” Mason said.

Women’s rights experts give a range of reasons for why women aren’t paid the same as men, including the fact that historically men have always made more, the different career paths a woman might chose to go into, whether they took time off to raise a family or not, and whether women may be less likely to ask for a raise.

Linda Hartley, 58, the vice president of New York Women’s Agenda who works full-time as the president of Hartley Consulting, said she faced pay discrimination in the 1980s when she worked at a fundraising development office. Although her boss told her she was much more effective than the man who previously held the position, a colleague told her that she was making to 20 percent less than the man when he worked there. Hartley said that after bringing the matter up with her bosses, she finally earned a significant raise, although still less than her predecessor.

Her experiences with pay inequity informed her women’s rights work today. “This isn’t something we should be talking about anymore,” she said. “We should be done. Move on. There are other things that deserve our attention.”
It hasn’t been easy to move on, but Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women New York City, said she thinks Gov. Cuomo can make it possible.

“There are certainly very strong players in the business community that can lobby against these basic inequity reforms and there has been a lack of political wealth to fix this problem,” Ossorio said. “Our current governor appears to be making up a lot of that. If we want to see our daughters earn their fair share, we need to act now. We need to do it or we’re going to see another generation being underpaid.”

NUMBER

$74,215 Average salary for a man in New York City, according to PayScale.com, which collects salary info

$58,360 Average salary for a female in New York City


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Local

Body found believed to be missing Fitchburg boy…

The body of a child found off of a highway in Sterling last week is likely that of missing Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver, authorities said.

Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp