11/7/14: Bee News - Requiring Erie County Vendors to Pay Women the Same as Men

Did you know that, on average, a woman working full-time in the United States is paid only 77% of what a man is paid in a similar job with similar experience? Did you know federal and state laws prohibit such pay disparity, but companies still do it anyway?

The time is now to end such pay inequality. That is why on Thursday, November 6, I signed an Executive Order requiring contractors with Erie County to submit an Erie County Equal Pay Certification indicating their compliance with federal and state Equal Pay Laws prior to entering into a contract with Erie County and subjecting said contractors to future monitoring and audits of contractor records to confirm compliance with federal and state Equal Pay Laws.

With this Executive Order I am putting all contractors who want to do business with Erie County on notice that they must be fully compliant with all federal and state laws regarding equal pay for women, they must prove that prior to entering into any contract with Erie County, and be subject to periodic audits by Erie County’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity. 

The facts surrounding pay inequality between the genders is alarming: in 2013, among full-time, year-round workers in the United States, Caucasian women were paid 77% of what men were paid for similar work in nearly every occupation, while the disparity is even greater for minorities as African-American women earn 64 cents and Latina women earn 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man. Women comprise 52% of Erie County's total population, 48.7% of its labor force, 61% of senior citizens, and 54% of the county’s registered voters.

In Erie County, median weekly earnings for a woman working full-time are $638.00, while a man doing similar work earns $798.00. Employers seeking guidance in instituting pay equity in their own companies can access the National Committee on Pay Equity’s Self-Audit, which provides a ten-step guide for evaluating current organizational pay policy and implementing equity-inducing changes where necessary.

Indicating the strong support in the community for such action, I was joined by Sawrie Becker, Erie County Commissioner of Public Advocacy, Jesse L. Burnette, Director of the Erie County Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Sheri Scavone, Executive Director of the WNY Women’s Foundation, Sara Vescio, Executive Director of the Canisius College Women’s Business Center, Jill Ann Robbins-Jabine, CEO of the YWCA, Donna Berry, President of the YWCA Board of Directors, and other community leaders as I signed the Order. 

The Executive Order, which goes into effect on January 1, 2015, is the 13th I have signed and aligns with a similar reporting requirement I have advocated for those seeking tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (“ECIDA”) but which has not yet been enacted by the ECIDA.

I have always been and always will be an unwavering advocate for equal pay for equal work, and this Order ensures that all vendors doing business with Erie County embrace that concept for their employees as well.