City workers and elected leaders rallied for equal pay for women on the steps of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon.
As part of the 50th annual National Equal Pay Day, about 50 SEIU Local 1021 union members, who represent city and county employees, and other supporters called for equitable pay rates for women workers, while chanting and carrying signs on the Polk Street steps of City Hall.
San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen said today cannot be a celebration of equality because 50 years after the federal Equal Pay Act was signed by President John F. Kennedy women are on average only earning about 77 percent of what their male counterparts make.
“While we have made some great strides for women, we are not even done,” she said.
She said pay disparity affects families as well, who are impacted by hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages owed for years of work for female employees.
Cohen sponsored a resolution asking the Board of Supervisors to recognize today as Equal Pay Day. The resolution also encouraged local employers to review their wage policies and ensure women are being paid fairly.
The resolution was co-sponsored by supervisors David Chiu, John Avalos, David Campos, Norman Yee and Eric Mar.
SF declares Pay Equity Day as it lowers salaries for women’s jobs [SFBG]
It passed at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting unanimously.
Board President Chiu said he was proud to support the legislation.
“It’s important for those of us who are men to be part of this,” he said.
Supervisor Campos said San Francisco has been a trailblazing city in terms of providing equal pay, but next year’s budget is threatening pay cuts to positions primarily held by women or people of color.
SEIU officials identified 16 city and county job classifications that are slated to receive wage cuts in the next fiscal year, and have determined that two-thirds of those employees are women.
Some of the jobs include nursing assistants, payroll clerks, museum guards and other personnel positions.
The supervisor said equal pay is a personal issue because his mother worked as a janitor for many years and Latina women like her are cited at making only 54 cents for every dollar a man earns.
“San Francisco is going to do the right thing,” he said. “Let’s make sure we have a budget that truly reflects our values.”
Former San Francisco supervisor and now-SEIU political director Chris Daly said at the noontime rally, “Pay equality is something that enjoys nearly universal support.”
The union is in negotiations with the city to keep wage cuts from jobs predominately held by women, union spokesman Carlos Rivera said.
National Equal Pay Day is held on April 9 each year to symbolize how many months into the next year women must work to earn the same amount as men did the year prior.
On Monday, the city’s Department on the Status of Women will launch a citywide initiative to challenge companies to practice gender equality in the workplace.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will join in kicking off the public-private project at City Hall.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, issued a statement today calling for Congress to pass laws that protect workers against gender discrimination.
“We should name this day un-equal pay day until women are finally paid the same wages men are paid,” she said in the statement. “Women deserve nothing less than full equality.”
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News