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Comparable Worth Concept

October 01, 1985

Predictably, a great uproar was raised by comparable worth advocates in the wake of the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning the Washington state comparable worth ruling. I applaud the court for exercising common sense. I am a strong proponent of equal pay for equal work, and an equally strong opponent of comparable worth, which I believe is a ludicrous idea.

Comparable worth advocates commonly plot to pay differences between classes of workers in jobs requiring similar skill levels as an example of pay discrimination that would be eliminated under a comparable worth plan. I've heard gardeners and librarians cited as examples in cases where organizations pay their librarians lower wages than their gardeners. However, if the jobs are similar, or if the gardener's job is less demanding but pays a higher wage, then why don't the librarians become gardeners?

It's likely that librarians prefer to work as librarians, and are willing to accept lower wages in exchange for opportunities to work in libraries. They tacitly accept non-financial awards in lieu of higher financial compensation. If they feel underpaid, they can quit. Are librarians forced to work as librarians? The same question can be asked of other so-called underpaid job categories.

PATRICK MOODY

Santa Monica

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