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Resolutions & Amendments

33rd International Convention - Honolulu, HI (1998)

Pay Equity

Resolution No. 94
33rd International Convention
August 24-28, 1998
Honolulu, HI


Women working full-time still get paid, on average, less than three-fourths of full-time male workers' earnings; people of color are also paid less than the full value of their work; and the earnings of women of color reflect both sex and race discrimination; and


Women who responded to the AFL-CIO Working Women Survey said fair pay was their top priority; and


AFSCME has been at the forefront of the fight to win pay equity. Through collective bargaining, litigation and legislation AFSCME has won over $500 million in pay adjustments and upgrades for undervalued jobs traditionally held by women and people of color; and


Although in 1981 the United States Supreme Court in County of Washington v. Gunther held that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covered compensation discrimination in situations where the jobs being compared are not identical, lower federal courts have chosen to apply Gunther very narrowly. The courts have required plaintiffs to meet nearly impossible evidentiary burdens to prevail, while making it easy for employers to defend their pay practices by claiming to pay market wages; and


Adverse court decisions in pay equity lawsuits brought under Title VII have hurt the ability of unions to negotiate pay equity; and


The Fair Pay Act (FPA) has now been introduced in the U.S. Congress. The FPA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to require that employers pay equal wages to employees in equivalent jobs, defined as jobs which may be dissimilar, but whose requirements are equivalent when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions. Employers are prohibited from reducing the wages of an employee in order to comply. Under the FPA, it will no longer be necessary for plaintiffs to prove the employer intended to discriminate to establish a violation, nor will employers be able to defend their pay practices by claiming to pay market wages; and


The Paycheck Fairness Act has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. The Paycheck Fairness Act corrects weaknesses in the Equal Pay Act by 1) prohibiting employers from penalizing employees for sharing information about their salaries; 2) making it easier to file class action suits; and 3) allowing compensatory and punitive damages; and


Several states are considering, or have recently passed, pay equity legislation covering state employees.


That AFSCME will continue to make pay equity a priority issue and that councils and locals are urged to address the issue at the bargaining table, whenever possible, and to support and encourage a renewed interest in legislation at the state and local level; and


That AFSCME strongly endorses the Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act and will actively work for their enactment; and


That AFSCME will continue to support the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), which has proven to be an effective coalition of union, civil rights and women's organizations dedicated to pay equity advocacy, and will work with the AFL-CIO on their Equal Pay Campaign.


Saul Schniderman, President and Delegate
AFSCME Council 26
Washington, DC