Task Force Report on Comparable-Worth Pay Assailed

Times Staff Writer

A task force on comparable worth on Tuesday issued a controversial report requesting legislation to require private employers to pay by the 1990s the same amount of money to both women and men for jobs of substantially equal value.

“Jobs performed mainly by women tend to pay less than jobs requiring similar skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions performed mainly by men,” the report said.

Representatives of the California Manufacturers Assn., joined by the state Chamber of Commerce and major employer organizations, promptly criticized the report as “raising more questions than providing answers.”

And key lawmakers said they feel that it is too late to try to push a comparable-worth wage-setting bill this year because the Legislature is scheduled to recess Sept. 13. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Created in 1983

The 11-member task force includes representatives of Gov. George Deukmejian, the Legislature and the Commission on the Status of Women. It was created by the 1983 Legislature under a resolution sponsored by Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte) and held 13 hearings throughout the state.


A minority of the task force also filed a report that said: “While it is right for government to tell bakers what harmful ingredients to leave out of cakes, it is entirely wrong for government to mandate a recipe for baking a cake.”

The minority report, signed by two appointees of the women’s commission, said the goal of legislation should be to remove sex- and race-based wage discrimination, instead of trying to evaluate work based on comparable worth.

A second minority report by appointees of Deukmejian also reportedly is in preparation.

A key recommendation of the main task force report called for the Legislature to require private employers to review their salary systems to ensure that they pay equally for work of equal value, regardless of sex.

Compliance Dates

Large employers, those with 500 or more employees, would have to complete the review and be in compliance by 1990. Small employers, with fewer than 500 employees, would have until 1992.

The reviews would be subject to audit by the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Asked for comment on the report, Paul Gladfelty, vice president of the manufacturers’ association, said, “It raises more questions than it provides answers. It should be noted this concept (comparable worth) already has been rejected at the federal level (by the U.S. Civil Service Commission).

“One of the things we must do is a survey of our members to see what problems would be caused by legislation, how much of a cost impact it would have, how it would affect competition with out-of-state firms and foreign companies,” he said.

‘We Oppose the Concept’

Spokesman Douglas H. Gordon of the state Chamber of Commerce said, “We oppose the concept of comparable-worth wage-setting because we feel there is no objective way to truly compare dissimilar jobs.

“The chamber and the business community strongly support equal opportunities for women and minorities and equal pay for equal work. But we are opposed to comparable-worth wage-setting.”

The main comparable-worth bill now moving through the Legislature would create a commission to study pay inequities between male and female state government employees and recommend ways to remove them.