By Seth Combs, San Diego City Beat
While Councilmember Chris Ward works for equal pay, congressional reps duck the people
There were many lessons to take away from the San Diego Women’s March back in January. These lessons were not lost on City Councilmember Chris Ward (District 3), who last week formally announced a proposal for a San Diego Equal Pay Ordinance. The ordinance, if passed, would require that any contractor with a city contract certify that they are providing equal pay based on gender and ethnicity. What’s more, it will better protect workers and whistleblowers who wish to discuss pay without fear of retribution.
“This idea was actually first mentioned to me by a District Three constituent while campaigning, and it seemed like such an obvious policy proposal given San Diego’s long-standing commitment to aggressively push for worker protections,” said Ward in an email to CityBeat. “I was already exploring what the process and form of an Equal Pay Ordinance might look like before the Women’s March, but the energy and passion on display that day really drove home to me that this goes beyond important policy to be an important signal of our civic values.”
Similar to San Francisco’s Equal Benefits Ordinance, Ward says his proposal would “codify specific penalties for violators” in order that “the cost of violations would be far more significant than consciously failing to meet our ordinance.” He also adds that he does not expect that the city would not need to hire any more Contract Compliance Officers in order to enforce the ordinance.
Recent research by the Center on Policy Initiatives found that women in San Diego are paid 72 cents to every dollar that men are paid, which is even greater than the statewide pay gap. That alone should startle readers enough to voice their support for Ward’s proposal. Both State Senator Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Todd Gloria have endorsed Ward’s proposal, and while it would only apply to contracted city employees, it’s a progressively great start in getting the city in line with other cities’ worker protection laws.
…And against us
Our local representatives in Congress get more breaks and time off from Capitol business than they know what to do with. To be fair though, this time is supposed to be used to fly back to their home districts to hear from their constituents. And while they’re certainly not obligated to do this—and we’ll kindly overlook a golf trip here and a spa trip there—it would be nice to hear from all five of our congressional representatives during the first “district work period” recess since the inauguration, right?
And yet here we are and of the five, only Susan Davis (D-53rd) and Scott Peters (D-52nd) have committed to doing town hall forums. These types of events have made a lot of headlines lately thanks to constituents showing up and blasting and booing their local congressional rep. Admittedly, most of these reps have been Republicans, but we have to say we’re at least impressed with the fact that representatives like Steve Knight and Tom McClintock are showing up to face the music, even if the latter had to be escorted out by police.