An article yesterday incorrectly reported that the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's 5-to-2 vote to reject the conclusions of a General Accounting Office report was taken Wednesday. The commission vote was completed by phone on Monday; two dissenting statements on the GAO's findings were released at a news conference Wednesday.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted 5 to 2 yesterday to ignore a General Accounting Office study that said the commission's report rejecting the idea of "comparable worth" was filled with "inaccuracies" and "errors."
The GAO had reported that the commission failed to use the same definition of comparable worth as the proposal's supporters in concluding that the idea would not work.
The commission's definition was that women in jobs held predominantly by women should be paid the same as men earn in jobs held predominantly by men that require similar skills and training. Reagan administration officials have said comparable worth would force the government to judge how much people should be paid, whereas pay scales should be set by the marketplace.
Advocates of comparable worth say that merit and seniority are legitimate reasons for differences in pay that can be taken into consideration before pay scales are adjusted.
In April, the commission adopted a report that said any wage gap between men and women results from several factors having nothing to do with discrimination, such as decisions to have children.
Commission Chairman Clarence M. Pendleton Jr. said yesterday that the GAO's criticism was ill-founded because the definition used by the civil rights panel was "basically the same" as the one used by comparable worth proponents.
"I have no other definition and the report is complete," he said. "You've got mine definition . And the concept is still loony."
Pendleton charged that the GAO was being used by Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio) for a politically inspired attack on the commission. "I think the GAO is out of their mind," he said. "It is embarrassing to GAO to take this much time to go through this much work and waste our taxpayer dollars . . . . It's clear that the GAO was on Mrs. Oakar's side . Anybody who doesn't like what Mrs. Oakar wants is going to be subject to an audit."
The House Post Office and Civil Service Committee yesterday approved an Oakar bill that would require the government to study whether its female employes are victims of wage discrimination, because most of them are clustered in the lowest-paying jobs.