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Pasadena Faces Issue of Equity Pay for Women

May 30, 1985|MARY BARBER | Times Staff Writer

The Pasadena Board of City Directors will be asked Tuesday to change the city's job hiring, training and promotion practices in order to bring women's salaries up to those of men.

The Commission on the Status of Women will make the requests based on its study that showed male municipal employees earn almost 25% more than women.

In a report presented to the board last week, the commission said that Pasadena's 351 female employees earn an average of $21,474, which is $4,239 a year less than the 565 men employes. The report also said that males dominate the highest-paying managerial positions, where their salaries average $7,000 more than those of women.

East Valley Studied

A similar study of "comparable worth" of jobs recently published by the League of Women Voters of Claremont also shows that male municipal employees in several east San Gabriel Valley cities earn an average of $4,200 a year more than female city employees. The league study did not list wages for every city, but its statistics showed that male municipal employees earn about 25% more than women.

Comparable worth, also called equity pay, tries to equate male and female jobs according to the skills and training they require.

The results of a league review of pay schedules in several cities, including Pomona, Claremont, La Verne and San Dimas, also concludes that women dominate the lower-paying clerical jobs and more men hold the better-paying blue-collar jobs as well as the highest-paying managerial positions.

Both studies examined the education and experience required for work traditionally performed by men and women, and compared pay scales.

The studies show that women traditionally hold clerical jobs that usually pay no more than $20,000 a year, while the blue-collar jobs that men traditionally hold almost always pay more than $20,000. In many cases, higher educational standards are required for the clerical positions.

The studies coincide with other city, state and federal attempts at legislation that would equalize pay between men's and women's work. Earlier this month the Los Angeles City Council agreed to raise the salaries of 3,900 women holding low-paying city jobs to bring them into line with the pay of men in jobs on the same level.

Pasadena is the first San Gabriel Valley city to tackle the issue. The Commission on the Status of Women Task Force on Comparable Worth and city staff members compiled the study and agreed on the salary differences that it disclosed.

Wage Parity Asked

At a meeting Tuesday the Pasadena commission approved the recommendations it will make to the Board of City Directors. The commission said it will ask the board to increase job counseling and training that would help city employees to advance their careers, to enlarge and enforce affirmative action procedures, to recruit women for jobs they seldom hold, to reclassify some clerical positions that have become technical jobs, and to bring wages into parity.

Takako Suzuki, a commission member and head of its task force on comparable worth, said, "This is a question of fairness. There are discrepancies in pay that have nothing to do with education."

City Manager Donald McIntyre and Personnel Director Kermit Francis said changes in pay schedules normally are worked out through employee union negotiations and the issue of comparable worth has been raised in the past two years. It has not resulted in higher wages yet, but McIntyre said the city is aware that "some aspects should be addressed."

Major changes have not been made, McIntyre said, "because someone would have to persuade elected officials to pay more than the marketplace. The taxpayer would have to bear the brunt, which means it would have to go on the ballot. I doubt it would pass."

The average wage for a male manager in Pasadena is $35,726, while the average woman manager earns $28,393, according to the commission report. Men, who hold 96% of the blue-collar jobs, earn an average of $29,209. Women, who hold 91% of the clerical jobs, earn an average of $18,029.

Educational Requirement

The commission survey shows that an auto attendant, whose job classification has no educational requirement but does require one year's experience, earns $21,190 annually, which is $2,525 less than the salary for a library technician who must have two years of college and two years of experience.

The Claremont League of Women Voters report was part of a continuing study on women in poverty. Esther Chu, who chaired the study, said the league is concerned about the growing number of women who are heads of households and whose employment is essential to their families' welfare. She said the league prohibits making recommendations but encourages women to run for elective office.

The league offered only averages in its study and did not break down salaries for specific cities. It shows that women dominate the lowest-paying jobs in Chino, Claremont, La Verne, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas and Upland.

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