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What is AFSCME’s Record on Pay Equity?

Listed below are the major victories AFSCME has achieved at the bargaining table, in the courts and through state legislation.

State government

Connecticut — Since 1982, Council 4 has been negotiating pay equity adjustments totaling in excess of $10 million. The 1988-1991 contract included approximately $900,000 annually for pay equity upgrades affecting over 2,000 workers in 70 job classes. In 1994 a substantial settlement was achieved that upgraded wages by $1,000 per year on average for workers in female- and minority-dominated jobs.

Florida — The persistence of Council 79 resulted in a $3.8 million appropriation for inequity adjustments for state and university employees in 1987. The money was distributed primarily to minority- and female-dominated job classes after consultation with AFSCME. The inequity fund was the result of several years of hard work on this issue by AFSCME which included helping fund a private pay equity study after the state legislature refused to do so. Additional equity adjustments were made in 1997-1998 by providing larger raises to lower-paid classifications.

Illinois — Council 31 negotiated an $8 million inequity fund for state employees.

Iowa — Council 61 negotiated a $25-million, four-year settlement for state employees in female-dominated jobs. Additional adjustments were made following union appeals.

Massachusetts — Council 93 negotiated substantial pay equity adjustments for about 60 female-dominated classifications. Under the terms of the agreement the state and the union also undertook a comprehensive review of the state’s pay and classification system which resulted in additional adjustments..

Michigan — Council 25 negotiated nearly $1.7 million in pay equity adjustments for state institutional employees.

Minnesota — Through a combination of legislation and collective bargaining, Council 6 obtained $33.4 million for a four-year plan raising the pay for female-dominated jobs to the level of comparable male-dominated jobs.

New Jersey — The state legislature approved an AFSCME-backed plan providing $7 million to upgrade the 10,000 employees in the lowest pay grades as a first step to pay equity. A task force with AFSCME representation was then established, which conducted a comprehensive review of the state’s classification system.

New York — Civil Service Employees Association/AFSCME Local 1000 negotiated a study and a fund of over $38 million for pay equity adjustments.

Ohio — Ohio Civil Service Employees Association negotiated a pay equity study with the state of Ohio that was completed in 1989. Twenty-three million dollars were appropriated to fund implementation of the study. Since many affected agencies receive federal matching funds, the total available for pay equity adjustments was much higher.

Oregon — In 1987, Council 75 negotiated inequity adjustments for female-dominated jobs using $7.5 million from a fund that state legislature had earmarked for that propose.

Rhode Island — According to a recommendation from a pay equity advisory board on which AFSCME was represented, 70 occupational classifications received pay equity adjustments beginning July 1989.

Washington — AFSCME’s landmark lawsuit against the state of Washington resulted in an out-of-court settlement providing over $100 million in pay equity adjustments for 35,000 employees. This settlement drew to a close a struggle that lasted over a decade. Since 1973, AFSCME Council 28 had attempted to get the state to end the pay disparities shown by the state’s own job evaluation studies. In 1981, AFSCME filed charges against the state that resulted in a victory in federal district court in 1983. Despite a decision by a three-judge Appeals Court panel in September of 1985 that overruled the district court decision, settlement negotiations were successfully completed.

Wisconsin — A three-phase implementation of pay equity for state employees has been completed at a cost of over $35 million. The 1990 contract further corrected historical discrimination against health care workers. Fine-tuning has continued through the collective bargaining process.

Local government


  • Antioch — AFSCME has negotiated 2 to 2.5 percent pay equity adjustments for workers in female-dominated jobs over a four-year period. 

  • Belmont — AFSCME-represented city workers received several years of negotiated pay equity adjustments. 

  • Contra Costa County — For this unit of 1,400, AFSCME negotiated up to 2.5 percent pay equity adjustments each year for five years. Additional adjustments were phased in gradually. 

  • Humboldt County — After a long, arduous campaign, AFSCME Local 1684 (Council 57) successfully negotiated a pay equity study and implemented the results of the study at the bargaining table. Over 130 employees, most of them female, had their pay upgraded. 

  • Los Angeles — A $12 million pay equity fund for city clerical and library employees was negotiated without a formal study. The percentage increases for many classifications were above 10 percent. 

  • Mill Valley — AFSCME has negotiated at least an extra 2 percent for pay equity over four years. 

  • San Carlos — The exclusively female AFSCME unit in San Carlos bargained wage increases 3 to 4 percent above those given other city employees. 

  • San Jose — A $1.5 million inequity fund for 60 classifications was negotiated after the nation’s first strike over pay equity in 1981. An additional $400,000 was negotiated in 1983, and in 1989 and 1990 pay equity adjustments of 0.5 to 10 percent were negotiated for 12 classifications. 

  • San Mateo County — In the 1984 contract, the female-dominated job classes received pay equity adjustments of 1.5 to 5 percent in addition to the across-the-board increases negotiated for all classes. In 1986, there were further adjustments including sizable inequity adjustments for social workers of up to $450 per month and a commitment to raise the pay for eligibility fraud investigators about $150 to $200 per month. 

  • South San Francisco — The 1987 contract gave clerical workers an extra 10 percent increase in the first year and police dispatchers a 10 percent extra increase in the second year.


  • Shelton — Forty members of AFSCME Local 1303-238 (Council 4) received upgrades totaling 
    $192,000, or 16 percent of the current payroll. 

  • Trumbull — Town hall employees represented by Local 1303-180 (Council 4) received adjustments totaling $295,000, representing 20 percent of the payroll.


  • New Castle County — Local 1607 (Council 81) negotiated adjustments of one or two pay grades for about 30 female-dominated jobs.


  • Chicago — Council 31 negotiated a three-year agreement that provides $1.2 million for pay equity for 3,500 workers in 79 classifications.


  • Genesee County — Forty public health nurses, nutritionists and health educators were moved to pay equality with comparable male-dominated professions over a two-year period. 

  • Oakland Community College — A three-year agreement negotiated in 1987 provided pay equity increases ranging from 11.3 percent to 39.3 percent. The average adjustment was 20 percent.


Minnesota is the only state with comprehensive pay equity laws covering both state and local government employees. All local units of government are required to do pay equity studies; and implementation pursuant to the studies is negotiable. AFSCME-negotiated settlements include those in the following jurisdictions:

  • Dakota County Library — Local 693 (Council 14) negotiated $66,000 in pay equity adjustments for a unit of 60 people. 

  • Duluth (City) — There has been partial implementation at a cost of 0.5 percent of payroll. 

  • Duluth School District — Council 96 has successfully negotiated one-fourth of the total amount needed to provide complete comparability. Additional adjustments will be negotiated. 

  • Hennepin County — In 1987, AFSCME negotiated a two-year, $2 million pay equity agreement covering 3,500 employees. 

  • Independent School District 381 — (Lake and St. Louis Counties) Council 96 achieved full implementation of the pay equity study. 

  • Itasca County — Commencing Jan. 1, 1988, 150 AFSCME Council 65 members of Local 580, Itasca County Social Services Employees Union, and Local 1626, Itasca County Courthouse Employees Union, received pay equity adjustments totaling $145,000. An arbitrator awarded the pay equity package from a final-offer arbitration case in which the arbitrator ruled in favor of the union’s final offer. 

  • Mankato — After a six-week strike in 1987, the library employees achieved 4.5 to 10 percent pay equity adjustments over the three-year contract in addition to over 10 percent across-the-board. 

  • Minneapolis — AFSCME Local 9 (Council 14) with 820 members negotiated $1.46 million in pay equity adjustments. 

  • Proctor School District — AFSCME negotiations resulted in full implementation of the pay equity study. 

  • Ramsey County — AFSCME negotiated $524,000 in pay equity adjustments for this 980-member local. 

  • St. Cloud — Twelve AFSCME members received pay equity adjustments totaling $14,000. A pay equity study revealed that sex-based wage discrimination was not as serious in St. Cloud as in other jurisdictions. 

  • St. Paul (City) — The average pay equity adjustment was 7.9 percent for the 580-member clerical unit and 4.5 percent for the 280-member technical unit. 

  • St. Paul School District — Through a successful interest arbitration, Local 844 (Council 14) achieved $300,000 in pay equity. The award was significant because the arbitrator did not allow the employer to use the market to determine the pay equity adjustments. 

  • Scott County — Local 2440 (Council 14) negotiated an $80,000 one-year pay equity fund for its 80-person unit.

New York:

  • New York City — In April 1991, AFSCME D.C. 37 in New York successfully settled a pay discrimination lawsuit against New York City. Two thousand current and former police communication technicians PCTs and supervisors won millions of dollars in back pay and upgrades. The predominately female and minority PCTs had been paid considerably less than the predominately white male fire alarm dispatchers even though their jobs were comparable. The total amount of the settlement was $7.5 million.

In addition, D.C. 37 has significantly reduced the gap between male and female city workers through a fund that has been used to upgrade a number of job titles. The city also provided funding for a pay equity study which indicated that there are further inequities that need to be corrected.


  • Multnomah County — The 1987 collective bargaining agreement included $490,000 for upgrades of 21 female-dominated classifications with a commitment for a study and future adjustments. 

  • Portland — After a long political battle during which AFSCME formed a coalition to get the city to implement a pay equity study, partial implementation was negotiated in 1989.

Washington State:

  • Spokane — Local 270 (Council 2) representing 850 city workers cooperated with the city for a joint pay equity study. The 1983-84 contract made substantial adjustments and the local is taking action to get full implementation.


  • Dane County — AFSCME Council 40 successfully settled a charge against the county. Five 
    hundred workers in 48 female-dominated jobs received $522,000 in pay equity increases. 

  • Green Bay — AFSCME Council 40 used interest arbitration to get public health nurses wage parity with sanitarians.

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