Women and people of color are often paid less for service jobs, such as groundskeeping or custodial work, than their white and male peers.
By EMILY DERUY | Bay Area News Group
After 23 years working at UC’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, first as a bus driver and now as a groundskeeper, Kathreen Bedford was dismayed to learn a white man hired a couple years ago with whom she works side-by-side whacking weeds already makes a higher wage than she does.
“It’s hurtful,” said Bedford, 53, who is African-American and spent decades working in the University of California system to build up her wage from $13 an hour to $31. “I feel sad. I feel like the time hasn’t changed from when my mother was coming up, from when there was a colored-only water fountain and a white-only water fountain.”
A new report from AFSCME, the union that represents more than 25,000 low-wage UC workers like Bedford, suggests her situation is not unique. Women and people of color are often paid less for service jobs, such as groundskeeping or custodial work, than their white and male peers, according to the report — which is based on previously unpublished employment and demographic data the union asked for and got from UC. That’s also true for patient care workers, who assist nurses and take X-rays.
Among the latter group, starting wages for black women are 23 percent lower than starting wages for white men, which works out to a difference of around $16,000 a year. Among service workers, the difference is about 10 percent, or about $4,000.
“If I were UC and I saw what the data showed, I would make it a priority to examine and address these very stark patterns of racial and gender inequality,” said Owen Li, a senior researcher with the union and co-author of the report.
UC did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
“The UC has the potential to be an engine of equality for California and the nation,” said the board of directors for the Council of UC Faculty Associations, the umbrella organization representing campus faculty associations, in a statement. “Unfortunately, as this study shows, the university needs to address racial and gender disparities in pay within its ranks.”
The problem may not be limited to just UC.
“What we see within the UC system is true throughout California and throughout the nation in terms of low-wage workers being disadvantaged by the way in which the global economy is evolving,” said James Stewart, a professor emeritus of labor and employment relations at Penn State University who reviewed the report.
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[Source]: The Mercury News