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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Race and gender pay disparity persists for NYC employees


A City Hall report found that white municipal workers earn about $7,600 more a year on average than Black workers, and about $6,500 more than Asian workers.

“This has been a continual concern for unions and for the members I represent in Local 768,” said President Fitz Reid.

DC 37’s Pay Equity Panel played a vital role working with city legislators to enact a law to identify and address pay disparities among city workers. The 2019 law led to the release of this data, but the information was delayed by the pandemic.

An analysis of city salaries shows women are disproportionately paid less than men, especially in predominantly female titles like Dental Assistants, Early Childhood Education Consultants, Therapists, and Community Service Aides. They are historically paid less than comparable titles where most of the workers are male.

Reid noted, “And these issues affect the men in these titles, also.”

The October findings also revealed that non-Latino city workers earn about $8,700 more a year on average than workers who are Latino. The data also confirms gender bias in city jobs. Male workers generally earn about $4,500 a year more than women workers.

These pay disparities underscore a grim fact: there exists a wide gap in municipal pay across both racial and gender lines.

“These preliminary findings are troubling,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told the Daily News. “For too long, the many contributions of women and people of color have been short-changed. It’s incumbent on all of us to make sure we are working to right those wrongs.”

About 65% of DC 37 members are women.

“As a union president and woman of color, I will continue to advocate for pay equity for union women, for our members, and for all workers in New York City,” said Carmen Charles, president of NYC Hospital Employees Local 420 and chair of DC 37 Women’s Committee.

In 2019, DC 37 negotiated with the city to add more than $12 million to the city contract to address specific salary disparities documented in a pay equity study by then NYC Public Advocate Letitia ‘Tish’ James, now New York State Attorney General.

Recently, NYC Laborers Local 924 filed its own lawsuit alleging that the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, DCAS, discriminates against Black, Asian and Latino laborers regarding overtime hours and violates longstanding mayoral orders that mandate equal distribution of overtime.

“Looking at payroll records, we’ve found patterns of racial disparities where white laborers boost their earnings, and in some cases, double their base salary because DCAS assigns them OT that Black and Latino laborers are not getting,” said Kyle Simmons, Local 924 president. “This affects Laborers’ salaries now and their future pensions.”

“At a time when essential workers are leading the city through this unprecedented pandemic, DC 37, local leaders, and the Pay Equity Panel are keeping our eyes on the ball to move forward and achieve equal pay for women and all working people,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.