Equal pay for equal value for women a real issue

Equal pay for equal value for women is real. It stems from years of occupational segregation and the belief that men bring home the bacon and women cook it. I am proud of the local leaders advocating for equality in wage pricing in our community.

One year ago, Mayor Alan Arakawa established a special repricing committee to identify whether women who work for the county are undervalued with regard to the skills, education, training and experience they bring to their jobs. Hawaii Government Employees Association representatives support this and have a seat on the committee.

The findings: Unskilled laborers make approximately $7,092 more annually than clerical workers. Apples and oranges, you say? Name one occupation where more skills, training, education and experience mean less pay. Laborers are 94 percent male; clerical workers are 96 percent female.

Equal pay for equal value is important for all families and for our economy. Many women today are the head of household and work two jobs to buy and cook the bacon. The mayor is proposing a monthly pay differential of $591 to more fairly value 365 clerical workers for the complex jobs that they do. We are depending on our Maui County Council members to vote yes for this differential until HGEA leaders can repair this gap statewide.

Undervaluing women may be unintentional but it still has a discriminatory impact, and I applaud our mayor and other policymakers who are trying to fix this now.

Karin Phaneuf