Thursday, April 11, 2013

NY Teamsters, NOW fight for equal pay for school safety agents

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday heard demands for equal pay for equal work from Teamsters and NOW officials. More than 5,000 Teamster school safety agents are bringing the largest pay discrimination suit in the United States against the City of New York.

The school safety agents, mostly women, receive $7,000 less pay a year than male-dominated peace officers in the city. Members of Teamsters Local 237 want Bloomberg to intervene in the class action suit and fix the problem.

The agents are put in harm's way every day.  They had to confiscate five firearms in the last five weeks. Their duties include patroling New York City's schools and making arrests. They are authorized to use deadly force while protecting children, teachers and staff.

According to the press statement,
Teamsters Local 237 President Gregory Floyd and Sonia Ossorio, President of the New York City Chapter of NOW, took to the steps of City Hall today on the occasion of National Equal Pay Day, to pressure Mayor Mike Bloomberg to intervene in the ongoing school safety agent federal class action lawsuit against the city demanding pay parity. 
...Teamsters Local 237 represents the school safety agents and has repeatedly tried to address this 20 percent pay inequity through contract negotiations with the city’s Office of Labor Relations, but it has refused to engage. The retroactive settlement the parties seek is about $35 million.
Floyd urged the mayor to engage:
We don’t understand why the city has chosen to drag this suit out against the brave women who are putting themselves on the line each and every day to ensure the safety and well-being of our public school children. 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. 
Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW NYC, said too many New York women suffer from pay discrimination.
When we tackle pay inequity and women earn the same as what men earn, it is our families and our economy that will benefit. Equal pay for equal work needs to be the highest priority. Mayor Bloomberg needs to stop turning a blind eye to these women school safely agents and this egregious example of gender pay discrimination.
Last month, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined Floyd at a press conference at the local’s offices demanding the city stop stalling on a three-year old lawsuit.

Labor Press reported the Teamsters will be back in court next month:
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.”