Pasadena Moves to Raise Women's Pay

Times Staff Writer

The Board of City Directors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve wage increases and job reclassification for many of the city's clerical positions, 90% of which are held by women.

Director of personnel Kermit Francis said that an increase of $350,000, or about 7% of the clerical payroll, will be carried out in three steps over the next two years, beginning in December.

"Jobs currently dominated by females will have a significant adjustment upwards," he said. "I think we're making a major step in the right direction."

The salary adjustment is part of a series of recommendations presented to the board last month by the Commission on the Status of Women in an effort to close the wage gap between male and female city employees.

$4,239 Less

The commission's recommendations, all adopted by the board, also include job counseling for women employees, a review of affirmative action programs, intensified recruitment of women and increased managerial opportunities.

The commission's research showed that Pasadena's 351 women employees earn an average of $4,239 a year less than the 565 men employees, said commission member Barbara Cato.

"Once we saw that gap, it was just a question of fairness," she said. "We're confident that the gap will begin to narrow now, but how much, we don't know."

According to Francis, the key to the wage increase is the reclassification of the city's clerical positions, which have usually been held by women. Because of technological improvements and changes in the managerial structure, Francis said that clerical job specifications no longer reflect accurately the responsibilities or duties performed by most clerical workers.

Jobs Reclassified

"The traditional clerical series really isn't consistent with modern business," he said. "This will make salaries more equitable and based on actual duties and responsibilities."

Clerical workers may now be reclassified as financial service representatives, administrative service representatives, or service technicians, as well as under the traditional clerical classification, Francis said. A typist, who is actually required to have computer skills, for example, may then be reclassified into a higher-paying job category.

Cato said that the commission had originally sought to make recommendations on the issue of comparable worth, which would have meant comparing the education and experience traditionally required for completely dissimilar jobs and then adjusting the pay scale to reflect those differences.

However, she said that such a study would have been costly and might have taken years to conduct.

"I think what we have is a much more realistic approach for the city," Cato said. "Also, it puts money immediately into the pocketbooks of city employees."

1% to 12% Raises

Francis said that the actual wage increases for individual employees have not yet been determined, but he indicated that they could range from 1% to 12%, depending on the specific duties and responsibilities being considered.

However, Francis predicted that the bulk of the money would go to lower-level clerical workers rather than to higher-paid managerial positions. He said that there might even be a cut-off point for higher-paid employees, women and men, at which no wage increases would be given.

The board also approved Francis' recommendation that a task force be named by the director of personnel to evaluate the success of the job reclassification program at the end of the two-year period, and to decide such questions as distribution of wage increases.

Although membership of the task force has not been specified, Francis said that it would include at least one representative from the Commission on the Status of Women and probably one member from a group opposed to pay equity.

"This is just a start," Cato said, adding that she felt there would still be pay inequities at the end of the two-year period. "If we don't like the results, we'll be right back here fighting."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World