DON’T LEAVE WOMEN BEHIND: District Council 37’s Local 372 rallied May 16 ahead of a Court of Appeals hearing on its pay-parity lawsuit, which argued that School Crossing Guards, who are predominantly female, should earn the same wage as the majority-male Traffic Enforcement Agents who fill their posts when a position is vacant.
Local 372 President Shaun Francois called the pay gap ‘disrespectful.’ ‘We are the lowest-paid people in this Council, but the hardest workers out there,’ he said. The Chief-Leader/Michel Friang Facebook Twitter Email Print Save District Council 37’s Local 372 is appealing a decision made by a U.S. District Court Judge last year that determined the city did not violate the equal-pay rights of the predominantly female School Crossing Guards seeking parity with Traffic Enforcement Agents.
Local 372, which represents 2,500 School Crossing Guards, filed the lawsuit in 2015, arguing that they were paid less than Traffic Enforcement Agents—who fill in for the guards whenever they call out sick or a position is vacant—despite doing equal work.
“We had over 200 vacancies at the time [of the lawsuit] so those posts were being frequently filled by Traffic Agents,” explained local Vice President Donald Nesbit at a May 16 press conference that was held right before a Court of Appeals hearing. “That has changed somewhat because we’ve pushed for hiring for more Crossing Guards and for more pay, but there’s still places even here in lower Manhattan where we have Police Officers and Traffic Enforcement Agents on corners where schools are.”
While 96 percent of School Crossing Guards are women, 56 percent of Traffic Enforcement Agents are male. The union believed that there was a gender-based pay gap: the average School Crossing Guard was paid $14.67 an hour between 2012 and 2016, the period covered in the lawsuit, which was about $6 less per hour than what was earned by Traffic Enforcement Agents who filled in for them. Both titles were employed by the Police Department.
Local 372 President Shaun Francois, who is also president of District Council 37, called the pay gap “disrespectful.” School Crossing Guards, who work 25 hours a week, earned as little as $11.79 an hour in 2015, then were bumped up to a minimum of $12.14 an hour at the end of 2016. They currently make $15 an hour.
“This is ridiculous. We are the lowest-paid people in this Council, but the hardest workers out here. In everything you can think of—rain, snow, sleet—we’re out here,” he said at the event near Foley Square.
Last May, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that Traffic Enforcement Agents performed different work, such as directing cars through red lights, and had to undergo “more rigorous” qualifications to get the job, including 10 weeks of training.
The union’s attorney, Roger Archibald, said that wasn’t a fair comparison.
“We are not comparing School Crossing Guards to a Traffic Enforcement Agent working overtime in Times Square,” he said. “We’re talking about a Traffic Enforcement Agent that is assigned to the post of a School Crossing Guard. When a Traffic Enforcement Agent is assigned to [that] post, guess what—he does exactly the same thing. That’s the only analysis that’s necessary.”
He added that the Federal law didn’t require a woman’s job description to be exactly the same as a man’s in order to be equally compensated.
“The law says the work must be ‘substantially equal,’ ” Mr. Archibald said. The city Law Department declined to comment.