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Resolutions & Amendments

26th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (1984)

Pay Equity

Resolution No. 5


Full time women workers receive on the average less than two-thirds of the salary received by male workers. This ratio of male to female earnings has not significantly improved in 40 years. A sizeable proportion of the pay gap is due to the systematic and discriminatory underpayment of jobs filled primarily by women. Every study of public sector workers shows that occupational classifications are sex-segregated, that women are over-represented in the lower pay grades and underrepresented in the higher pay grades, and that jobs filled mostly by women pay less than jobs filled mostly by men requiring equivalent skill, effort and responsibility; and


The U.S. Supreme Court in Gunther v. County of Washington has ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits sex-based wage discrimination and it does not matter if the jobs being compared are dissimilar; and


AFSCME has led the movement for pay equity through collective bargaining and through litigation.

AFSCME and the State of Minnesota negotiated a precedent-setting collective bargaining agreement that brings the wages of underpaid female-dominated jobs nearly up to parity with the wages of male-dominated jobs of similar skill, effort and responsibility. An initial amount of $22 million was authorized by the Minnesota legislature for pay equity upgrades and AFSCME and the state negotiated over the allocation of the funds.

AFSCME Local 101 in San Jose waged a successful 9-day strike over the issue in 1981. This paved the way for pay equity achievements through the collective bargaining process in Spokane, Washington; Green Bay, Wisconsin; San Mateo County, California; St. Paul, Minnesota; the States of New York and Iowa; and in other areas of the country.

In other areas, where employers have been unwilling to work cooperatively to voluntarily end wage discrimination, AFSCME has not hesitated to file EEOC sex discrimination charges and lawsuits.

The decision in U. S. Federal District Court in December 1983 in AFSCME v. State of Washington was a landmark victory in the drive for pay equity. This decision has obvious implications for other employers who maintain sex-segregated work forces and systematically underpay occupational classifications filled mostly by women.

AFSCME has pay equity lawsuits pending against Nassau County, New York; the State of Connecticut; and is cooperating with the American Nurses Association in litigation against the state of Illinois. AFSCME also has EEOC charges filed against a number of other public employers; and


AFSCME collective bargaining and litigation success has spurred legislative bodies at the state and local level to address the pay equity issue through legislation. With strong AFSCME support, the State of Minnesota has passed legislation requiring that all public employees, both state and local, be assured of pay equity. Minnesota is an example of how collective bargaining and the legislative process can be combined to achieve equitable pay in public workforces; and


The federal government under the Reagan Administration has impeded progress on the pay equity issue. The EEOC has refused to investigate over 250 Title VII pay equity charges, has initiated no investigations of its own and has made no recommendations for litigation.

The Justice Department's initial reaction to the Washington State decision was to threaten to intervene during the appeal process on the side of the state. The Executive Director of the Civil Rights Commission has referred to pay equity as a "radical idea." The Federal Office of Personnel Management has steadfastly refused to seriously investigate sex-based pay discrimination in the federal government.


That AFSCME will continue its commitment to pay equity and will continue to press the issue through collective bargaining, administrative charges, lawsuits, and by working for appropriate legislation. AFSCME will absolutely oppose any employer attempts to use pay equity as an excuse for downgrading the pay or classification of any workers. AFSCME will continue to offer technical, educational, and legal assistance to affiliates on pay equity, and will strive to increase public awareness and support; and


That AFSCME will continue to pressure the EEOC and the Justice Department to enforce Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act's prohibition against sex discrimination in compensation. AFSCME will also work within the Democratic Party to ensure that its platform and ongoing policies reflect a strong commitment to pay equity.


International Executive Board

Carolyn Samson, President
Norman Snyder, Secretary
Local 707, Council 14
St Paul, Minnesota

Thelma Burke, President
Linda Laskos, Vice President and
Local 253 Executive Board, Council 1707
New York, New York

Margaret K. Jones, President
Gary Linger, Secretary
Local 1164, Council 6
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Janet Kodish, President
Lisa Kermish, Secretary
Local 3211
Berkeley, California

Sue King, President
Beverly Hermanson, Secretary
AFSCME Local 443, Council 28
Olympia, Washington

James M. Kearney, President
Janet Hews, Secretary
Local 435, Council 28
Seattle, Washington

Marion Porro, President and Delegate
Local 1930, Council 37
New York, New York