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Legislative Memo

BILL:

A.7012 (Stringer)/A.237 (Grannis) / S.483 (Marcellino)

Support

SUBJECT:

Comparable Worth

 

DATE:

April 12, 2002

 

The Business Council of New York State, whose membership includes over 4,000 member firms as well as hundreds of chambers of commerce and professional trade associations, has reviewed the above mentioned legislation and opposes its enactment.

This legislation would amend New York State's Civil Service Law by introducing the concept of comparable worth as the state policy for determining and setting salaries. It would also expand the existing statutes beyond simply prohibiting wage discrimination based on the gender of the employee.

This bill repeats the existing policy that is currently contained in Section 115 of the Civil Service Law declaring that the pay policy in New York State is to provide equal pay for equal work and then proceeds to expand the definition of discrimination on the basis of sex to include different jobs occupied by different genders which are assigned different pay rates but "have comparable worth" regarding skill, effort and responsibility and working conditions.

The theory of comparable worth rejects the market involvement in the determination of pay (supply and demand) and substitutes a so-called objective independent assessment of the "value" of the work. The purpose of such a process is to insure that the "value" of jobs held by women is equal to the "value" of jobs held by men. Any lawful, non-discriminatory reasons why employees of one sex hold certain jobs and employees of the opposite sex hold other jobs are ignored and are purposely excluded from the process. Since the value of a job changes and differs from person to person, jobs have subjective characteristics. The market is a large part of the mechanism for determining this subjective value.

Also, this bill excludes from its expanded definition of discrimination on the basis of sex, different pay rates that are calculated pursuant to a bona fide seniority system. This appears to permit the new prohibited wage discrimination if it is contained in a seniority system. This would seem to defeat the purpose of the bill.

Comparable worth would replace the equality of opportunity with the equality of results, using legislation and government regulation. To be implemented, a new "Comparable Worth Bureau" would be created at significant cost to New York State individual and business taxpayers. In addition, thousands of municipalities across the state would be forced to deal with another new unfunded mandate.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted by the Assembly.