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Women's Pay Issue at Impasse in Pasadena

August 22, 1985|DEBORAH HASTINGS | Staff Writer

PASADENA — City officials and union negotiators have reached an impasse over how to distribute wage increases approved by the Board of City Directors to bring womens' salaries up to those of men doing comparable work.

Both groups agree that some women employees earn far less than their male counterparts. They are deadlocked, however, on how to rectify the situation.

The Pasadena Assn. of Clerical and Technical Employees, whose 250 members are predominantly women, said this week that city directors never consulted with union representatives before approving salary increases in July.

Union and city negotiators are stymied over how to divide the $350,000 set aside for wage increases for women over a two-year period.

4% Increase Sought Now

The union thinks the women it represents deserve a 4% salary increase now. But the city wants to study and reclassify each position, with employees receiving increases based on job requirements. Personnel director Kermit Francishas said the city may increase the salaries from 1% to 12%.

Union officials have asked city directors to settle the dispute.

In July, the board unanimously approved wage increases and job reclassifications for many of the city's clerical positions, 90% of which are held by women.

The board's action was in response to a study by the Commission on the Status of Women that showed that male municipal employees earn almost 25% more than women. The report, presented to city directors in May, said that Pasadena's 351 female employees earn an average of $21,474, which is $4,239 a year less than the average for the 565 men employees.

Other Issues Involved

Negotiations for a new two-year contract between the city and the clerical workers' union have bogged down over other issues as well, including medical benefits, sick leave, cost-of-living increases and the city's contribution to the Public Employee Retirement System, union officials said. The union's contract expired July 7.

The union also is seeking a 5% increase in cost-of-living adjustments for this year. In 1986, it wants a pay equity increase of 3% and a cost-of-living raise of 6%. The city offered a cost-of-living increase of 5% over the two-year period.

While union officials said they are pleased that the city has addressed the issue of comparable worth, they are unhappy that they were not consulted.

In a letter to city directors, union attorney Dennis Moss said: "In your zeal to address the pay equity issue, you heard from personnel, you heard from the Commission on the Status of Women, and you discussed the matter among yourselves. You unveiled a plan, and you patted yourselves on the back.

Moss: No Talks With Clerks

"One thing you failed to do is discuss the matter with the people affected by your plan, the clerical employees of the city, members of PACTE and the PACTE bargaining unit."

City officials have declined to comment on specifics of the contract negotiations.

"It seems to me that we're just at their whim," said PACTE vice president Jeanne Wright, a senior clerk typist with the Pasadena Library. "They want to do job studies on an individual basis. They have not given us their criteria. It's very subjective rather than objective. We feel that every clerical person is entitled to a percentage of that money. We want something right across the board, right away."

Wright said union members have discussed a strike if the contract disputes are not resolved soon.

"We will if we have to," Wright said this week. "Our members now are pretty riled up. We have sat through 11 or 12 bargaining sessions" in the last three months.

"We went into negotiations with high hopes. We have kind of been deflated. We're the people who listen to little old ladies that call in and say they are eating kitty chow and can't afford to pay their light bill. And we're the people who have to smooth things out when their electricity is turned off.

"We feel that we are the ambassadors for management and we're not being recognized."

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