by Dianne Post

Mayor Greg Stanton proclaimed Equal Pay Day on April 10 in a press conference at City Hall organized by Charlotte Shurtz of the Central Phoenix Inez Casiano NOW. While acknowledging that Phoenix has some celebrating to do with a pay ratio of 83% and that city employees are up to 91% parity, it is still not good enough as we strive for equality. Phoenix also has five major departments run by women including police and fire and 82% of all city employees are supervised by women. It’s clear we have the leadership, we need to extend the goal to all.

Kate Gallegos, city council woman and candidate for mayor, reminded women to ask for raises and be assertive while reminding employers that it is incumbent on them to pay attention to their most productive people and reward them as good business practice. Stephanie Juarez, small business owner of Fair Trade Cafe’s, emphasized how important it was for employers to remember that for a successful business, you must treat your own employees fairly. She was proud of the passage of Prop 206 and the number of women and families it lifted out of poverty.

Athena Salman, state legislator, reminded us that equal pay is a statewide issue and though she introduced two bills in the state legislature to address this problem, neither was heard. In her research, she found that the state equal pay provision had not been updated since the 1970s when Sandra Day O’Connor was in the legislature and had never been used. On a personal a note, she told us how a man was promoted over her pregnant mother because “he needed to support a family.” Such blindness to women is evident still today.

Quiana Dickenson from the African American Caucus pointed out that what we have learned from history is that we never learn from history. But it has become evident that if this country is going to be brought back to its ideals of liberty, equality and justice, it will be women, especially women of color, who lead the way. Many people enjoyed the cupcakes that sold for $1 to men and .80 cents for women but expressed hope that we would not have to return here again next year because, as Gallegos suggested, equal pay day would be January 1.