Because of an editing error, D.C. labor relations director Donald H. Weinberg was misquoted in a Metro section article yesterday. Weinberg did not acknowledge that there were "sex-based pay differences" in the city government. He said he believes pay differences between male and female city government workers are the result of longstanding "market value" determined by supply and demand.
The predominantly male blue-collar work force in the D.C. government earns an average of about $1,500 more than mostly female white-collar workers, according to city unions, and City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) said yesterday she will introduce legislation requiring a study of such disparities.
Jarvis, during a public hearing she convened on the problems of working women, said her bill would direct the city to study "pay equity" among its 30,000 workers.
Pay equity is a controversial concept, supported by labor and women's groups, that calls on employers to raise salaries of female-dominated occupations because they have been historically undervalued in comparison to male-dominated professions that require comparable skill and experience.
"I consider this to be fact-finding legislation," Jarvis said in an interview. "I am not saying there are inequities, I am saying we have to study" whether pay differences are based on legitimate differences or on discrimination.
Jarvis' announcement came as representatives of more than 20 organizations called on the District government to do more to aid the city's estimated 165,000 women who work outside the home. Expanded day care, job training, flexible work hours and pension reforms were demanded, but the city also won praise for its pilot 15-child, on-site day care center at the new Municipal Office Building on 14th Street which is to open next year.
So-called "comparable worth" legislation and lawsuits have become a hot topic for public- and private-sector work places. In the most celebrated case to date, a federal judge last year ordered the state of Washington to revamp its pay system to end sex discrimination against 15,000 female employes, at an estimated cost to the state of between $500 million and $1 billion.
Several states and dozens of municipalities have begun developing numerical systems to rate the value of jobs in terms of such things as the amount of skill and experience required, or the degree of hazard involved, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. On the federal level, the Senate, after a strong legislative push from Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio), recently agreed to conduct a study of pay disparities among federal workers. The House had previously adopted an Oakar bill requiring such a study.
Donald H. Weinberg, the D.C. director of labor relations, acknowledged the existence of sex-based pay differences in city government, but attributed them to longstanding "market value" variabilities determined by supply and demand. "I do not think we are discriminating," he said.