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San Diego To Mandate 'Equal Pay' Among City Contractors

August 1, 2017 1:29 p.m.

San Diego To Mandate 'Equal Pay' Among City Contractors


David Garrick, reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune

Related Story: San Diego To Mandate 'Equal Pay' Among City Contractors


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The city of San Diego adopted an equal pay law yesterday requiring that major city contractors pay women and minorities equal pay for equal work with their white male counterparts. The boat made San Diego the largest city in the nation to pass a pay equity law. Several city Council members said this would help address age old pay disparities that keep women and minorities from becoming economically secure. Joining me is the reporter with the San Diego Union Tribune.Welcome.There are federal and state laws mandating equal pay. What does this law do?You could argue that it's more symbolic than anything but if someone complains there -- the city to get involved and this would be part of the enforcement mechanism. It is mostly symbolic.Despite the laws -- federal and state laws -- what kind of pay gaps continue?According to the study, a group called the national partnership for women and families found that a male full-time worker averages 3 to 9000 -- 39,000.If you want to talk about ethnicity -- were every one dollar earned by white men, black women make $.64 and Latinas $.44.How is San Diego going to enforce this?It will be complaint driven. It will be reactive. They didn't want to have a whole new set of personnel enforcing this law. If someone complains they can complain to the city or they have an opportunity to file a lawsuit or complaint to the state. A new avenue of potential complaints by employees who feel they are being treated unfairly.This complaint driven process has been criticized by workers' groups especially having to do with the minimum wage, right?It is. With the minimum wage they have added some staff. It's slightly different. It is played driven but they are going to businesses doing outreach to make sure all the businesses in the city understand that the city has a higher minimum wage than other cities.This is a little more aggressive, but I get the comparison. Anything complaint driven is going to be inferior to something where they are proactively enforcing it. The city only has so much money and so many priorities and this is the decision they made.Reporter: Let's talk about the boat yesterday at San Diego City Hall. Apparently from the article the Council president became somewhat emotional speaking about this.Yes. She is a black woman. That would make sense. Not that anyone would find discrimination a problem. Her quote was, the fact that discrimination exists is appalling. That is a strong quote.She made it clear that this is important issue for the city to react to.It's worth noting that the Democrats on the Council -- five Democrats and four Republicans -- all the Democrats on the Council work ardent and -- were ardent and emotional and animated about the support. Not so much from the Republicans I. It passed unanimously. Two Republicans didn't speak and one did speak. Scott Sherman spoke against it. He ended up voting for it but he indicated he was going to vote against it and he argued against it.Reporter: What were the arguments he made initially?One fair point is that the study that they used didn't take into account the fact that someone might have more experience or seniority and the statistics -- I'm not saying they are skewed but they are based on -- a average pay for a man and the average pay for a woman. It's possible that more men 30 or 40 years ago with the breadwinners in their families. There may be reasons why that might be the case. He was fair and pointing out it was an apple to apples. On the other hand, stories that showed that women with the same amount of experience in the same amount of education typically still get paid less than men. You could look at it either way.Any idea why Scott Sherman changed his stance on this and voted yes?There was a lot of momentum in the Council chamber. Everyone was bored. All of the speakers were for it. It seems like the right thing to do. One of his other arguments against it was he thought it would be divisive in the sense that we are singling out people -- it's all begin this together. I'm guessing it became apparent to him that maybe that was the wrong argument in the sense that the room was altogether. There was no divisiveness in the room.Reporter: Will every business be subject to the new equal pay law?They won't. There are a bunch of exemptions. One that makes it more symbolic -- it affects a lot of contractors but if it is a public works contract less than $500,000 the company will be exempt. The contract would be exempt. If a company has 12 or fewer employees they are exempt. If it's intellectual property they would be exempt and a few other exemptions. Trying to make this something that businesses won't find rough and onerous.David Garrick, a reporter with the San Diego Union Tribune. Thank you.