SF declares Pay Equity Day as it lowers salaries for women's jobs

Sup. Malia Cohen addresses the Pay Equity Day rally at City Hall.
Courtesy of SEIU Local 1021

The Board of Supervisors today declared April 9 Pay Equity Day in San Francisco, in recognition of the persistent national gap between male and female financial compensation. But with the city locked in a dispute with SEIU Local 1021 over pay cuts to jobs dominated by women and workers of color, the day took on special local significance. Ahead of the declaration, union members, activists, and supervisors rallied in front of City Hall, chanting against San Francisco's wage inequality and the general climate of fiscal austerity.

Women in San Francisco earn just 84 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Although this figure is slightly higher than the national average of 77 cents per dollar, the discrepancy represents a yearly wage gap of $9,968 per year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. At today's press conference in front of City Hall, Sup. Malia Cohen called the gap “unconscionable in a country as wealthy as ours.”

Cohen was joined by Sups. David Chiu and David Campos, who both spoke out against gender-based wage gaps. “It is important for men to speak out,” Chui said. “It wasn’t women who made the decision for pay to be unequal.” Campos went a step further, promising to vote against any budget that further entrenches unequal pay. “I will not support any budget that reflect this discrepancy,” he said.

SEIU Local 1021, which represents over half of city employees, is currently locked in a budget dispute with the city over pay cuts that would adversely affect women and workers of color. The city Department of Human Resources has recommended that the city cut the salaries of 16 categories of city workers, including personnel clerks and nursing technicians, which are disproportionately females and workers of color. The dispute was recently sent to an arbitrator.

At today’s event, local SEIU leaders and the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee (SFWPC) continued to pressure the city to reconsider the salary cuts. SFWPC President Laura Hahn called persistent pay inequality “embarrassing.”

“If we can’t achieve it here in San Francisco where are we going to do it?” she asked.

Former Supervisor Chris Daly, who now works as political director for SEIU 1021, echoed Hahn’s concerns and charged that the proposal to cut pay for female-dominated categories calls into question the city’s long term commitment to pay equity.

“If you ask Mayor Lee if he supports wage equality, of course he will say yes,” Daly told us. “But in reality, his Department of Human Resources is rolling back progress.” Daly’s repeated requests for Mayor Lee to intervene in the wage-cut arbitration have not yet been answered.
But for the DHR, the recommended cuts have more to do with fiscal reality than gender equality. At a March 7th budget hearing, DHR director Micki Callahan said, “It would be improper to base any decision on demographics.”

She voiced concern over the “root causes” of pay discrepancy, but indicated that these issues fall outside the purview of her department. Spokespeople for the the DHR department have repeatedly assured us that the proposed budget cuts have nothing to do with gender, but rather reflect an effort to bring city salaries in line with market forces.


account an important distinction. If men and women are paid different rates for the exact same job, then that might be a sign of a problem.

But if men are making more because, typically, they invest more in their careers for historical and cultural reasons, and therefore have better jobs, then it is inevitable that they will be paid more, and is not necessarily a sign of a problem.

Without acknowledging that distinction, you run the risk of merely engaging in emotive hyperbole.

There are now several female CEO's of Fortune 500 companies, includes Pepsi, Anglo-American, HP and others. So we know there is no gender bar. The better question is whether if, on average, women earn less, it is simply because they accomplish less?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

worded in such a way to be inflammatory. Don't take the bait.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

nurse makes the same amount of money as a painter?

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

class A make less money than class B, it is incumbent to look at the skills and education level of those two classes to see what percentage of the pay difference is accounted for simply because of that.

It may turn out to be 100%, in which case the entire premise for the whinery is debunked as invalid.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:48 am

first post was that women don't invest or put in much effort as men do in their careers. Now you make a slight of hand and say it is about "education level". So are you claiming that women don't seek out higher education as much as men do? If so, upon what evidence do you base your claim?

Saying something may turn out 100% to be correct is mere conjecture, and a very weak foundation to base an argument on.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

you are very likely to take the same attitude towards working.

Not saying women do, only that there is a correlation there.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

"Young women are outpacing men in educational attainment and there’s little sign males will make up ground any time soon."


Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

But can they lead in a tenacious competitive struggle, and out their feelings aside to do so?

A few can compete with men at the highest level, certainly. But anyone who has worked with both male and female managers know that the women can feel that they have to try a little too hard.

In my experiences, competitive workplaces work better when they are mostly male. For some highly individual professions, that is less of a problem.

But unless you want the government interfering with pay levels, we should be OK with tolerating some discrepancy at the margin.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:03 pm
Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

tell me how much I think your work is worth?

I suppose you could argue with minimum wage, and I personally oppose that.

But otherwise it is a private matter between you and me about how much I think you are worth.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

Heaven forbid. You can think whatever you want about what my work is worth. But a civilized government should be in the business of regulating what you have to pay people. You don't have to actually agree. You're free to disagree. You're free to not go into the hiring business. But if you do go into the hiring business, you shouldn't be free to exploit others. I'm not surprised you're opposed to minimum wage. I believe that preventing exploitation -whether in wages, prices, or rents -is a legitimate role of government. You obviously don't. It's philosophical difference.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

the pay grade that you think you are worth, and therefore you decline the job?

Nobody forces me to be an employer, but nobody forces you to work for me either.

And if you are in a job that doesn't pay enough then do what I do, and quit.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

You libertarians like to present this idealized view of the job market as a give and take negotiation. But for any negotiation to be fair, it has to be on a level playing field. And workers and employers are anything but on a level playing field. Employers are rich(er), workers are poor(er). Employers are big, workers are small. Employers are strong, workers are weak -at least individual workers are. You might argure that workers are many, while employers are few. But their numbers don't mean anything if workers are divided. The only way that the bargaining can approach anything resembling a level playing field is if workers unite in some form -either through strong unions, through outright workplace democracy, or through changing the government to represent the many rather than the few, and thus enact laws that protect workers from exploitation. Of course you probably oppose any such efforts to strengthen the hand of workers in bargaining. You want a system rigged in favor of employers and you have the Orwellian audacity to call it "freedom."

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

Most people i know are headhunted. They're not even looking for a job, rather they are poached with higher pay and a sign-on bonus.

With a skills shortage, the boot is on the other foot, employees have the power, employers have to haggle and fight for the best.

See, you're fighting a battle that isn't relevant any more, unless you're an unskilled minimum wage lackey, in which case you don't have any power but that's your own fault.

Marx's dream came true - the workers now have power and, thru stock options, even ownership of the means of production, as Marx predicted. He just got the method wrong - we never needed communism for that - we needed capitalism.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

Outside of a few highly sought-after professionals, most people in America don't live in the world of headhunters and sign-up bonuses. Get real.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

our local presence in fields like IT, biotech, finance, real estate, management consultancy, law and medicine.

It's quite common.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

"Government should be in the business of regulating what you have to pay people"..."rents, prices or rents" - Welcome to Stalinist Russia!

Posted by Richmondman on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

controlling nothing.

One of the great self-defeating tragedies of the left is thinking that a self-selected clique and coterie are clever enough to manage a society better than the people themselves.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

Richard Nixon=wage and price controls.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

Just like they never work.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

but I appreciate your honesty. You don't mind "some discrepancy at the margin" when it doesn't involve your own paycheck. Got it.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

marketplace, and you won;t ctach me whining that I am not paid enough.

I will simply find another job.

Equality never meant equality of outcome. It meant merely equality of opportunity.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

other than trolling this web site please? I can't imagine it pays very much. Those trailer wheels are a-squeakin'! 

Posted by marke on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

spends all day posting here usually (but not today, for some odd reason).

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

"Women’s gains in educational attainment have significantly outpaced those of men over the last 40 years. Today, younger women are more likely to graduate from college than are men and are more likely to hold a graduate school degree. Higher percentages of women than men have at least a high school education, and higher percentages of women than men participate in adult education."


Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

are approaching 50%. In law, less so as it is a more aggressive profession.

But there is more to success than education. You also need that "killer instinct" in corporate life - is it possible that women lack that?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

Your "killer instinct" is overrated. A study by a pair of economists found that qualified women make better team players and consequently, better leaders. But the business world is having trouble catching up to this fact~

"It appears to be the case that women often opt out of entering these competitive environments," Pate said. "Importantly, while qualified women opt out, unqualified men opt in. As a result, the gender competition gap may result in organisations failing to select the most qualified leaders."


Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

explains why it is also paid more. The perception may be wrong, but nonetheless it accounts for the fact that those with the killer instinct are paid more, and they are more likely to be men.

So what you are really saying is that corporations should be run differently, and could be more successful if they got more in touch with their female side. Maybe so, but that is a business decision and not a political imperative.

Bestw ay to influence a coproration. Buy some shares, vote your proxy, and affect change from the inside.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

I've got a better way to influence corporations: make their officers and top investors personally liable for any criminal behaviors and put corporations who are repeatedly caught exploiting natural and human resources into a federal receivership. If corporation want the same rights as individuals, let's also hold them accountable and start executing some of them. At that point, the aggressive male behavior that you and "the markets" seem to prize so highly might be tempered a bit, and you'd probably begin to see male and female salaries coming a bit more into parity. Valuing male attributes over more feminine sensibilities causes global warming, loss of biodiversity, unsustainable exploitation of human and natural resources, and a host of other problem, as I discussed in my recent "Do We Care?" article. http://www.sfbg.com/2013/03/26/do-we-care

Posted by steven on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

the notion of limited liability. That's why people and executives and owners invest money in them, because their liability is limited to their investment. It's the single biggest organizational factor that has led to America's economic success - the same success that enables successful businesses to buy ad's for SFBg which of course pays your salary.

Again, we can debate all those fuzzy touchey feely aspects you cite, but my point was restricted to explaining why employers typically pay men more.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

on the notion that there's a social benefit to corporations. At least that was the original idea. You want the state to grant you limited liability for things you should otherwise be liable for? Ok then, prove what social benefit would result in exchange for granting you that limited liability. That's what you had to show in order to get incorporated. Somewhere along the way, we dropped the whole notion of social benefit, but left the rich people with no liability. But of course. How can it be any other way, when the nation is essentially an oligarchy?

It's time to do away with the whole concept. People make decisions, not businesses. People commit crimes. And people need to be liable for their actions. Aren't you conservatives constantly blathering on about personal responsibility?

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

more willing to give back more to the community. But as long as you can make 5 million for being stupid enough to spill hot coffee in your lap, then you cannot reasonably expect corporations to roll over on whatever your social imperatives are.

And in fact companies are very generous with charitable donations and providing volunteers for helping the worse off. My employer matches any charitable ccontribution I make from my paycheck, and gives me time off to volunteer.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

Social work isn't going to pay you what a programmer makes, they both may take the same amount of time to accomplish but there is a glut of college educated social work bound women, while there seems to be a lack of programmers who tend to be men.

The simplistic view of progressive as usual is correlation and causality are a myth when that world view works to their advantage.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

the fact that boys and girls pick different professions and, right or wrong, the market values more the careers that boys choose.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:37 pm

as much effort in their careers as much as men.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

"Time researchers have found that it takes eight hours a day to parent two children up to the age of eighteen, so when you do the math you find many women putting in a full day at the office and then another full day at home. After sixteen hours of work, there are only eight left, so something must give. These days, more young women who have put years into schooling and getting established with a career are recognizing that parenthood is an option, not an obligation, and increasing numbers are choosing to skip it."


Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

A woman who spends 8 hours a day working and 8 hours a day childminding, is not as available as a man, who could devote up to thats ame 16 hours purely on the job.

Double the thruput could explain anything up to double the pay.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

"There is no 'I' in team, but there is in win," the basketball star Michael Jordan famously observed. But now it appears that such an emphasis on the role of the individual is a very male approach when it comes to competing. Indeed, a study suggests that women are much more willing than men to compete as part of a team.

"Nearly two-thirds of the "gender competition gap" – the gap between the likelihood of men or women to enter a competition – disappears when people are offered the chance to compete in two-person teams rather than as individuals.Academics Andrew Healy and Jennifer Pate claim that their findings, published in the Economic Journal, have important implications for the design of competitive environments, such as elections and corporate career ladders.

"The pair believe their research reveals that competing in teams "levels the playing field" by encouraging a higher number of qualified women to take part and discouraging unqualified men. They argue that this insight should help organisations to select the best-qualified leaders. [...]

"Previous research has shown that a man is much more likely to choose to compete compared with a woman, even when the two are equally good at a given task. The professors claim their study suggests that this gender competition gap can be narrowed by simple changes to the environment in which competitions are held.

"The economists suggest the gender competition gap may help to explain the continuing lack of women in positions of power. There are only five women CEOs of FTSE 100 companies. The likes of Angela Ahrendts at Burberry, Cynthia Carroll at Anglo American and Dame Marjorie Scardino at Pearson are extremely rare."

"However, a new way of measuring their performance – one that focuses on their ability as part of a team rather than in a testosterone-loaded, gladiatorial-style competition – could change this, the economists suggest."


Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

in any event, while we cand ebate whether workplaces should be organized differently, the fact is that it is ultimately the market that decides what rewards to pay, and not an academic or politician.

And while the market may get it wrong sometimes, I still prefer taking my chances with that than having some faceless bureaucrat decide pay levels, which are getting to be the case some 50 years ago.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

The timing on this article which appeared in MSN Money today couldn't be more perfect:

In other words:
-Yes, there is a pay gap.
-Yes, discrimination exists, and yes it's wrong where it does exist.
-No, it doesn't account for most of the pay gap -only a very small part. The rest is for other reasons, some of which have nothing to do with anything nefarious.
-When you compare apples to apples (same job, same level of experience), you find the pay gap has *almost* entirely disappeared... in some instances women actually make more -I've seen statistics showing women making more among entry level teachers, nurses, and engineers. But on average, it seems that there is a persistent gap of around 2-8%. That's not perfect, but it's a far cry from the 23% touted by some activists and dutifully repeated in the media. We'd all be better served if we had an honest debate with honest numbers.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

men and women do different types of jobs.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:49 am

If you did, you would see that even callibrating for all the variables, the gap between men's and women's wages falls somewhere between 2% to 20%.

"..the Wikipedia page cites a 2003 study from the Government Accountability Office:

"The researchers controlled for "work patterns," including years of work experience, education, and hours of work per year, as well as differences in industry, occupation, race, marital status, and job tenure. With controls for these variables in place, the data showed that women earned, on average, 20% less than men during the entire period 1983 to 2000.

"Economist June O'Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found an unexplained pay gap of 8% after controlling for experience, education, and number of years on the job. Furthermore, O'Neill found that among young people who have never had a child, women's earnings approach 98% of men's."

Anyway, Greg makes a good point, but even he doesn't deny that the gap exists.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

It's not possible to factor out everything because not every factor is numeric. Even within the same job, it's possible that men try harder, or can devote mroe time to the job, or they play better with others, or a thousand other "soft" factors which cannot be "calibrated away" and yet still have a material impact.

Oh, and I never encountered a link here that wasn't self-serving. I can furnish links showing the earth if flat. So what?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

and "play better" with others (most studies demonstrate this), yet aren't recognized for it. But then why study anything at all since you assume you can't callibrate for other factors, Flat Earther? Why bother with science at all?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

Ever heard of intangible assets? Goodwill? Soft factors? Implied volatility? All are computed by extrapolation, not directly.

Women can find it harder to be tough, to be dispassionate, and to kick ass when it's needed. That's why you see a lot of women as middle-managers but, above a certain level, it's much rarer.

Lots of reasons can explain a pay differential that aren't in any way prejudicial.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

Tough, dispassionate, kick ass. They didn't call her the "iron lady" for nothing! For that matter, some studies have shown that women make better soldiers.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

but she managed it. The exception that proves the rule.

Even so, the US has not gotten close to electing a female president and, bar JFK, has never even elected a non-protestant prez.

While even our "black" president is only half black. We're a very conservative nation.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

The study that cited a 20% dispparity goes back to 1983. It was a different country in 1983, so I think that one doesn't say too much about our experience in 2013. The others I think have more validity.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

The sad truth is, disparities between City jobs dominated by women and those dominated by men are in full effect. A Painter employed by the City and County of San Francisco makes more than a Licensed Vocational Nurse. It goes without saying that becoming a LVN requires significantly more education and certification that that required to be a painter. Yet DHR is intent on cutting the pay of LVNs, while making no overt efforts to reduce the pay of Painters, let alone the Mayor, who makes more than the Mayors of LA, NYC, and London.

Why is it that DHR's attempts to bring city employee pay in line with the market is limited only to the lowest paid City classifications?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

the pay levels. Pay is ultimately determined by supply and demand. So even some qualified lawyers do not make that much money as there are quite simply too many of them.

While a self-taught plumber can make a lot.

Also men are more likely to engage in trades that put you at physical risk or discomfort e.g. public safety, linesman etc. You pay more for someone to risk their neck.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:52 am