To the Readers' Forum:
I am responding to the editorial in The Sunday Post-Journal "Enforce Existing Fair Pay Laws." As in the article The Post-Journal ran of May 9, the facts of the NYS Fair Pay Act (A06130A) have been misunderstood.
There is nothing in this Fair Pay Act that takes salary-setting out of the hands of employers. Just as employers currently define their job classes/titles and set their own salary schedules, they will do so after the Fair Pay legislation is enacted. It is incorrect to state, as The Post-Journal does, that "The bill would impose state regulations telling businesses with more than four employees which jobs are 'equal' and so must be paid the same."
The Post-Journal states that the Fair Pay Act is "about equal pay for different work." This law requires fair pay for job titles of comparable value and worth. Comparable worth laws, such as this one, leave the processes in the hands of the employers, but just as other laws tell them they cannot hire child labor, and they cannot pay unequally for equal work, equal-pay-for-job-classes-of-comparable worth laws put limitations around how they pay job-titles that are disproportionately filled by women and people of color. It is still legal for a school district to pay an entry level cleaner more than a teaching assistant (whose title requires certification and college credits) and for clerical, food service, nurses' aides, librarians and other traditionally female job titles to be paid less than male jobs requiring equal education, skills and responsibilities.
This bill also enables employees to share voluntarily their compensation rates with fellow employees without fear of retaliation by their employer. This could have meant that Lillie Ledbetter might have known decades earlier that she was receiving a discriminatory pay rate.
We applaud The Post-Journal for demanding that the current laws be enforced, but if enforcement were enough, the pay gap would not exist. This Fair Pay Act also needs to be enacted so that women can receive the pay they are owed for the work they are already doing in jobs of comparable value and worth.
AAUW Jamestown Branch