By Deborah E. Young
April 21, 2010, 6:48AM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- It is an inequity that has persisted for decades -- the disparity in pay between men and women -- and Staten Island's female state lawmakers are seeking a solution.
The state Assembly Monday passed two bills, both co-sponsored by Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-East Shore/Brooklyn), to help end gender-based discrimination in the state: The Pay Equity package would make it illegal for businesses to compensate men and women differently for the same work, and the New York State Fair Pay Act would broaden definitions of equivalent jobs in terms of skills and education, and put into place guidelines to prohibit income discrimination based on gender, race or national origin.
"It is inexcusable that in this day and age women still earn less than men for the same work," the assemblywoman said, noting the passage coincides with yesterday's Equal Pay Day. "Not only does the wage gap deprive women of the income they deserve, but it takes away resources from their families."
A version of these bills has easily passed the Assembly for the past 13 years.
The true struggle remains getting the legislation moved through the state Senate.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) is among those leading the drive to get similar bills to the floor, despite longtime objections by the business lobby, which claims such guidelines would tie up the private sector in red tape.
"Part of the wage gap results from differences in education, experience or time in the workforce. But, the reality is, some jobs pay less, simply because they are dominated by women," said Sen. Savino.
She noted that social workers, for example, make on average $6,000 less than parole officers, even though they have similar education levels and work with the same population.
"I am committed to changing this inequity because the fact is, pay equity is beneficial to all of us. When women earn more, the entire family, both male and female, have access to better health care, educational opportunities and the chance to advance themselves."
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