April 10, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Tuesday marked the 17th anniversary of Equal Pay Day, but more than 5,000 school safety agents, mostly women, make $7,000 less annually for doing the same work as their male peace officer counterparts. The agents, represented by Teamsters Local 237, along with the National Organization for Women, urged the Mayor at City Hall to settle the nation’s largest class action pay discrimination case. (Watch Video)
Last month, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined Local 237’s President, Greg Floyd, at a press conference at the local’s offices demanding the city stop stalling on a three-year old lawsuit.
Sonia Ossorio, President of the New York City Chapter of NOW, said on Tuesday that pay discrimination is thriving in the city and throughout the country.
“Pay discrimination is a fact of life for far too many women in New York, including the brave women who make up 70 percent of our school safety agents. It’s unacceptable that these women make $7,000 less. $7,000 a year can be the difference between being below the poverty line or making it in New York City,” said Ossorio.
The agents work throughout the city’s schools in very difficult circumstances. They’re responsible for protecting children and staff. They are authorized to use deadly force if necessary while trying to fulfill their duties.
Floyd said that the agents are put in harms way daily. They recently had to confiscate five firearms.
“These peace officers, most of them women, can actually go to work and be seriously injured any day of the week, and have been seriously injured. They deserve more,” said Floyd.
He added that he couldn’t understand why the city has chosen to drag this suit out against women risking injury.
“Mr. Mayor, equal pay for equal work is one of our fundamental rights. Let’s act now to end gender-based wage discrimination among city employees.”
The agents’ attorney, James Linsey, said that the city refuses to negotiate with the agents and the local.
“The city has had no substantive response,” said Linsey.
He noted that the city is delaying by choosing to depose agents about what are their job duties.
“Why is that? Because the city said, ‘We need to establish what school safety agents do.’ Shame on Mayor Bloomberg. Doesn’t he know what the agents do? He should go to the schools and really see what they do,” said Linsey.
The next court date is May 22 before U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein of the Southern District of New York. Floyd said, despite no response from the city regarding the three-year old lawsuit, he’s hopeful about the upcoming hearing.
“I’m never more optimistic but we’re going to continue to talk about this issue until it reaches the attention of the Mayor and he does something about it.”