Feb 10, 2017 (San Diego) Assemblymember Chris Ward (District 3) introduced an equal pay ordinance to the city of San Diego. This would mandate that any contractors that do business with the city, pay men and women the same wages. According to Ward, this ordinance is “consistent with the equal benefits ordinance and the living wage ordinance that were passed many years ago.”
How would this work? Just like the equal benefits and living wage ordinances, these are complaint driven and from the side of the employer, or city contractor, this means one more box to check.
So why is Ward, and other members of the council concerned about this? Doctor Peter Brownell, of the Center for Policy Initiatives, gave some startling statistics. The statistics he gave are specific to the City of San Diego and come from the 2015 American Communities Survey Data, from the U.S Census. The data reveals that women in the city are earning “72 cents for each dollar that men earn.”
Brownell further broke this down to women of color, who face even more unequal pay. “African-American women here in the city of San Diego, earn 50 cents for every dollar that white men earn. Latinas earn 37 cents for every dollar that white men earn.”
Further, CPI found that single-parent families in the county, “69 percent of single mother households are struggling to make ends meet.” In contrast, Brownell remarked “52 or 53 percent of father headed single households are having problems making ends meet.” This is one of the drivers for the disparity in poverty rates as well.
The data can be found in the Make Ends Meet study released in 2014.
State Senator Toni Atkins led the fight for the living wage ordinance when she was in the council. She remarked that at the time there was a lot of opposition. There were dire warnings that it would have a negative effect on the city. Instead, it has become an engine of growth. Back then, the city “was saying that if your company does business with the the city, you must commit to be a partner in making sure that working people in San Diego earn a decent wage and receive decent benefits.”
This policy is a continuation of that policy and “if you do business with the city you must commit in being a partner in making sure that working women in San Diego are treated and paid fairly. This is about gender equality and fairness.”
Councilmember Georgette Gomez, (District 9) told Reporting San Diego that this will have a positive effect on the standard of living off her constituents. This will come “by ensuring that we no longer have an economic gap between the gender inequality that we currently have. We have many women who live in the district, specifically women of color, and we see that they get impacted the most.”
Gomez also said that “there is a hunger at the city level from city leaders to really address this economic gap.”
In her view, this will take about a year to implement. Ward hopes that it will take less time, as short as four months.
Councilmember Barbary Bry represents District One, and in her mind one model to follow is that of industry. She comes from the technology field, and companies such as CISCO, have found it advantageous for productive, morale, and living standards.
She said that while “women have seen significant progress in the workplace since the 1960s, in many cases the same issues persist today.” She added, “we can’t continue to accept less than what we deserve.”
She added that her experience in the business world showed her that “equal pay is not just good for working families; it is simply good for business.”
Assembly Member Todd Gloria sees this as a continuation of the policies, some of which he oversaw. Among them the minimum wage ordinance, that was put on the 2016 June ballot and was adopted by a majority vote. This was opposed by the business community, and it was that community that placed it on the ballot. Councilmember Ward replaced him in the council.