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advocacy for Women's equality act


Women’s Equality


In his January 2013 State of the State, Governor Cuomo introduced his 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, later the Women’s Equality Act (WEA), which aimed to break down barriers and promote fairness and equity for women across various aspects of their lives, including health, work, and safety. For details of the specific provisions included in the 10-point plan, please see the Public Policy on Reproductive Choices, Employment, Equality of Opportunity, Human Trafficking, Pay Equity, and Domestic Violence sections.

Following the State of the State, LWVNY joined the NY Women’s Equality Coalition to lobby for passage of Governor Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda/Act (WEA). The League lobbied extensively for passage of the WEA. League members throughout the state participated in rallies and press conferences and visited, called, and wrote lawmakers. On Thursday, June 20, the Assembly passed the entire 10-point WEA (A8070). In the Senate, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC)/Republican ruling coalition refused to bring the full WEA, which included a reproductive health provision that would codify Roe v. Wade into state law, to the Senate floor for a vote, instead opting to break down the provisions into separate bills. On Friday, June 21, Senate Co-Leader and IDC conference leader, Senator Klein, introduced the reproductive health provision as a hostile amendment to S4174, a bill about medical records. After a debate about abortion, all Republican Senators and two Democrats voted that the amendment was not germane to the bill (32-30). Following the hostile amendment maneuver, the remaining nine points of the Women’s Equality Act were each introduced in the Senate as separate bills, debated, and passed. The Assembly refused to consider the separate bills before adjourning on Friday evening. Consequently, the WEA was not passed during the regular 2013 legislative session because there was no “same as” bill in either house.

LWVNYS and 47 of our local Leagues remained signed on as supporters of the Women’s Equality Act in the 2014 legislative session. Once again the Assembly has passed the entire WEA. We are now calling on the Senate to pass the Assembly’s omnibus bill (A.8070). The League, with its coalition partners, will continue to advocate for passage of the entire WEA in the 2014 session.

womens equality and issues: League position


WOMEN'S EQUALITY: Letters, Press Releases, Op Ed Pieces, and Press Coverage

advocacy for pay equity

Pay Equity

Summary of Pay Equity

Pay Equity or equal pay for job titles of comparable worth requires that job titles primarily filled by different sexes be paid comparable wages if the skill and responsibility levels required by the job titles are comparable.  Within the workforce of an individual employer,  job titles primarily filled by women and people of color (such as nurse aid and food service worker) must be paid comparably to male dominated job titles requiring the same levels of skill, responsibilities and performed under similar working conditions.

At the heart of comparable worth or job-title pay equity reform is the fact that job titles traditionally filled by women and people of color have been systematically undervalued in the marketplace.   The net result is that these job titles are commonly paid less than comparable jobs with the same levels of skills and responsibilities but held by white males.  For instance, some school districts pay secretaries and teaching assistants (job titles that require associate degrees) less than the cleaners.  School nurses in the West Islip school district once started at $27,000, while groundskeepers started at $29,000.  In Denver, nurses were found to make less than gardeners.

This bias can be demonstrated and subsequently eliminated by assessing the economic value of different jobs through the use of a gender-neutral job evaluation system.  Apples and oranges can be compared by using any common denominator such as vitamins, juice content or calories, etc.  Similarly different job titles can be compared using common denominators such as the amount of education required, the responsibility for people (or budgets or resources) etc.  For over 70 years, most, if not all, large employers have had job evaluation wage-setting processes in place to relate the common denominator requirements of vastly different job titles to their salaries.  This is one of the primary functions of  personnel/human resource departments.  For more information on how job titles can be compared see the Educational Materials section below.

Federal equal-pay for equal-work legislation prohibits the paying persons of different genders or race/ethnicity differently if they are doing the same work.  But there is no protection if you are not doing exactly the same work. 
Equal pay can never exist if it is possible to ghettoize women and people of color (and many white men as well) into traditionally female jobs and, therefore, pay them less than their work is worth.  This is a family issue that impacts pensions and social security as well as current household income.

Pay Equity: Summary of Current Action

In April of 2011, the Assembly passed the package of pay equity bills as it has done every year since the turn of the century (2000). But before the bills were passed the Republican Assembly members grilled each sponsor with questions which they deemed unanswerable in an attempt to make the sponsors and the issue look foolish. In response the Assembly Democrats held a press conference so that the sponsor of each bill could explain the issue. An outgrowth of this was that Assemblymember Rosenthal appeared on a television news program concerning pay equity.

December 12, 2011, the Assembly Standing Committees on Labor; Governmental Employees; Governmental Operations; Oversight, Analysis and Investigation; and the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues held PUBLIC HEARING on PAY EQUITY. The PURPOSE statement for the hearing reads: “Almost 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, women and minorities continue to suffer the consequences of unequal pay. This hearing will examine wage disparities that continue to exist in New York State and discuss ways to eliminate discriminatory practices.”

Seventeen testimonies were submitted from individuals and organizations such as the Cornell University Institute for Compensation Studies, the State Bar Association, Hunter College, the YWCA, the Equal Pay Coalition of NYC, the New York State United Teachers, Local 1180 of the Communication Workers of America, the Work and Family Legal Center and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. All of the testimonies spoke in favor of the pay equity reform, except the one from the Business Council. LWVNY submitted testimony as did the New York Pay Equity Coalition (NYSPEC), the Coalition that we work through on this issue. Following the hearing NYSPEC provided technical assistance to Assembly central staff as they revised their package of pay equity bills and introduced and passed them in the 2012 session.

Democratic Women Senators held a roundtable discussion of the Economic Issues facing Women in NY on May 15th, 2012.  LWVNY and NYSPEC participated in the discussion, providing information about pay equity, but the discussion was broader, also addressing pregnancy and family status discrimination, reproductive health, domestic violence, human trafficking, etc.

In his January 2013 State of the State, Governor Cuomo introduced his Women’s Equality Agenda, which included under the topic of “Achieve Pay Equity” prohibiting employers from terminating or retaliating against employees who share wage information, a practice that enables wage disparities to persist undetected.”  This section also indicated that current NYS law would be amended to “ensure that women receive the wages they were always entitled to, as well as provide for an additional amount of liquidated damages equal to 300% of the back wages due.”   Subsequently, LWVNY joined the NY Women’s Equality Coalition to work for the principles included in the Women’s Equality Act. 

At the end of session in 2013 the Assembly passed the omnibus Women’s Equality Act, and the Senate introduced and passed 9 of the separate sections of the Women’s Equality Act as bills.  Since there were no same as bills nothing changed.  In January of 2014 the Assembly again passed The Women’s Equality Act (A. 8070).

In addition to lobbying for the Women’s Equality Act LWVNY and NYSPEC will continue to advocate for comparable worth legislation.

Pay Equity: League Position
Pay Equity: Memos
Pay Equity: Letters, Press Releases, Op Ed Pieces, and Press Coverage
  • MOS A8487-S6059A Establishing Equal Pay Disclosures for State Contracts

Pay Equity: archived materials

Contact the League Office or call the state the League office at 518-465-4162.