Times Staff and Wire Reports

Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Utility: An arbitrator dismissed objections by union workers that a new job category being created by Southern California Gas Co. would violate a 1991 "pay equity" agreement to end wage discrimination against female employees. The Los Angeles arbitrator, Robert D. Steinberg, upheld the company's plan to add a lower-paid category of customer service representatives. The company said the ruling will enable it to provide better service. But Elizabeth Garfield, a lawyer representing union workers, said the decision will "turn back the clock" by creating a group of predominantly female, comparatively low-paid workers. She said the utility "abrogated its agreement to pay employees based on worth rather than on gender."

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