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San Diego To Mandate ‘Equal Pay’ Among City Contractors

San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward sits at the dais, Dec. 12, 2016.

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward sits at the dais, Dec. 12, 2016.

San Diego To Mandate 'Equal Pay' Among City Contractors

GUEST:

David Garrick, reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune

Transcript

The San Diego City Council has approved an ordinance requiring city contractors to pay employees equally regardless of race or gender. The ordinance is meant to compliment and strengthen similar state and federal laws.

The San Diego City Council on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance requiring companies that do business with the city to pay their employees equally, regardless of race or gender.

The Equal Pay Ordinance, authored by Councilman Chris Ward, mandates that city contractors self-certify compliance with the ordinance through their contract with the city. Employees of those outside businesses can file complaints with city officials, who can then force the company to open up its records to prove compliance. Companies in violation of the ordinance can have their contract terminated.

"Ultimately (this ordinance) makes sure that our economy is working for everyone, and that the city is being a leader to make that happen," Ward said.

A report to the council from Ward's office said the city of San Diego is the largest employer of contractors and consultants in the region, with $613.5 million budgeted for those outside services in the past fiscal year.

The ordinance provides for a handful of exemptions, including for businesses with 12 or fewer employees and public works contracts worth less than $500,000.

State and federal laws already require equal pay for equal work, but census data suggests the problem is far from being solved. A report last March by the National Partnership for Women and Families found Latina women in California are paid 44 cents for every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic male — the second-worst pay gap for Latinas in the country.

Councilman Scott Sherman said he was concerned the ordinance would create unnecessary burdens on businesses that are already required to pay equally under state and federal law, and he questioned whether the wage gap data took into account factors like work experience and time on the job. After initially suggesting he would vote against the ordinance, Sherman ultimately voted in favor.

The ordinance is set to become effective on Jan. 1, 2018.

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