Equal Pay Day aims to address the significant pay gap based on ethnicity and gender, emphasizing that this is a persistent and ongoing issue. One union that has been actively advocating for pay equity is New York City’s first union of supervisory and administrative employees, CWA Local 1180. Despite New York’s progress in political advancements, CWA emphasizes that there is still much work to be done in closing the pay gap. For example, the median salary for white employees in New York is $27,800 higher than that of their Black counterparts. This highlights the need for continued efforts to promote fair and equal pay for all employees.

CWA’s President, Gloria Middleton, has been at the forefront of the fight for equal pay in modern New York history, emphasizing that salaries and compensation packages should be directly tied to the work expected of employees in their given titles, and not their skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Middleton has gone beyond just raising awareness for Equal Pay Day, which falls on March 7th, and has taken concrete steps to address the issue. One such example is the union’s 2014 complaint filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found in favor of over 1,500 employees and recommended that the city pay them millions of dollars in back pay. Unfortunately, the city did not disburse the money to any employees. In another case, Lourdes Acevedo, a city employee of 33 years, discovered that she was earning only $60,000 per year compared to her white male counterpart’s salary of $125,000 in 2016. In response, CWA Local 1180 filed a notice of claim against the city, demanding retroactive pay of $243 million.

Pay disparities stemming from gender and ethnicity discrimination disproportionately affect black women. CWA Local 1180 has been at the forefront of redressing this issue by highlighting ‘Black Women’s Equal Pay Day’ on August 2nd, which marks the day in the year black women have to work until to earn the same amount made by white males in the previous year. According to an August 2021 report from the City Council, significant pay gaps exist between racial and gender groups within the city’s municipal workforce, the findings of the report illustrate why the long-held admonition against discussing money and politics is a privilege that most cannot afford. Following advocacy by CWA and others, the city council amended Local Law 32 to require employers to list minimum and maximum wages per position on job listings, promoting salary transparency and pay equity.

The Advance Group, a progressive strategic consulting firm headquartered in New York, has been a longstanding supporter and advocate of CWA Local 1180’s efforts to address the issue of equal pay. Under the leadership of its founder and president, Scott Levenson, the firm has worked with a diverse group of clients, including progressive democratic politicians, nonprofits, and labor unions, many of whom have made measurable strides towards achieving equal pay and bridging the pay gap. In agreement with Middleton, Levenson acknowledges that racism still exists in the United States, and even progressive cities like New York continue to pay white men considerably more than their female and minority counterparts. He finds this disparity to be shameful and is proud to represent the CWA 1180 leadership in their continuing struggle to correct this injustice. Levenson state’s “If you think the civil disobedience of the 1960s ended racism in this country you are both naive and ignorant. Till this day even progressive cities like New York still pay white men considerably more than their female and minority counterparts. It’s shameful and we are proud of the CWA Local 1180s leadership that we represent for their continuing struggle to correct this injustice!”


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