CWA Local 1180 President Gloria Middleton testified on September 19, 2019 at the Pay Equity Public Hearing with the Commission on Gender Equity partnering with the Commission of Human Rights, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and the New York City Bar. “I am here today to speak about pay equity – making sure that ALL City workers – especially women and minorities – receive the compensation they are entitled to for the work they do. We all know that salaries and compensation packages should not be tied to the color of your skin…your gender…your sexual orientation…or your religion. They simply and clearly should be in direct correlation to the work expected of you in your given title, and nothing else. That’s just common sense. But in New York City, the most progressive City in America, that common sense was nowhere to be found.”
Gloria Middleton spent the last six years negotiating for equal pay for city-employed administrative managers in New York City, after research showed a salary gap that reached nearly $100,000 among individuals working the same jobs.
Black and Latina women were some of the lowest earners. The city settled for about $15 million in April, with paycheck bumps coming for employees later this year. The difference those bumps will make cannot be understated, said Middleton.
“It will allow them to afford an apartment in New York City,” she said. “It’s putting food on the table. They can actually take a vacation every now and then.”
Middleton, a Harlem resident who took the helm of the 9,000-member Communications Workers of America 1180 last year, joined the public sector as a young single mother because it provided solid benefits and union representation, allowing her to raise her child without worry. As she rose through the ranks over a decades-long career, wage disparities faced by fellow women of color in New York became apparent.
“Even the minority men would get paid more than the women...the excuse was, ‘Well, they have a family they have to take care of,’” she said of the situation at one of her first jobs. “But I had a family I had to take care of, so what were they talking about?”
That is the moment — when a woman of color recognizes a disparity between people working similar jobs — that change could be made, but often it’s not, said Yversha Roman, 34, of Rochester. She co-chairs the local Pay Equity Coalition and learned through her work about the barriers still facing women looking for pay equity.