Assembly committee to look at Leg treatment of women employees

Assembly committee to look at Leg treatment of women employees

equal-pay-dayThis week, the California State Assembly announced the creation of a new select committee to investigate issues facing women in the workplace. Speaker John A. Perez, who made the announcement on Equal Pay Day, said that he’s tasked Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, to lead the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace.

“California has been a leader on women’s issues, and we want to make sure we remain a leader,” Perez said.

State Assembly’s poor record of pay equity

California may be a leader on women’s issues, but the California State Assembly has a poor record when it comes to pay equity for its female employees. Last year, an analysis of Assembly payroll data by showed that women who work for the California State Assembly face a glass ceiling.

As of May 2013, female employees at the California State Assembly were paid less than their male counterparts, were less likely to serve in leadership roles and remained stuck in secretarial positions, the analysis of legislative payroll data found. The evidence was staggering:

  • Women were nine times more likely to work as a secretary.
  • Men were nearly twice as likely to serve as a highly paid chief consultant.
  • The 10 highest-paid employees of the state Assembly were all men.
  • Women filled only 35 percent of the Assembly’s chief-of-staff positions, the top staff slot for each elected representative.
  • The average woman employed by the Assembly made $5,640 less per year than the average man.
  • Men represented 62 percent of the Assembly’s Top 100 highest-paid employees.
  • The Top 50 highest-paid men made, on average, $19,880 more per year than the Top 50 highest-paid women. analyzed payroll data for the state Assembly’s 1,175 employees listed as of May 31, 2013. The annual payroll for the state Assembly is $70.5 million.

Perez’s poor record on helping women

Little has changed in pay equity since’s initial report. Last month, the State Assembly handed out raises to hundreds of its employees. According to the Sacramento Bee, “About a quarter of the money went to the 12 percent of workers who earned more than $100,000 as of January 2013, including raises for all but a handful of the Assembly’s 20 highest-paid employees.”

The Assembly’s highest-paid woman, Fredericka McGee, the special counsel to the Assembly Speaker, received a 10 percent pay hike. Consequently, she is now the only woman in the Assembly’s Top 10 highest-paid employees.

The Assembly’s unequal pay has been noticed by women’s rights groups, which have been critical of Perez’s record on women’s issues.

“Pérez knowingly pays men more than women for the same work and also places more male staffers in higher level positions than female staffers,” Patricia Bellasalma, the president of the California National Organization for Women, wrote in a blog post at La Progressive earlier this year. “It’s time to say no to John Pérez, who over the course of his tenure as Speaker, has seen the number of female elected Assembly members steadily decline, including in Los Angeles.”

Gonzalez vows to look at Legislature’s record

The new select committee may have been intended, in part, to blunt this criticism. Perez is locked in a tough battle for State Controller against one of the state’s most prominent female elected officials, Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee.

“I have formed the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace with the expectation that it will address the whole range of issues from wages to working conditions and everything in between,” he said in explanation of the new committee.

Whatever Perez’s motivations, Gonzalez’s selection as the committee’s chair ensures that the Legislature won’t be exempt from the review. She told that the Assembly’s treatment of women in the workplace will be part of the committee’s work.

“As this Select Committee works to enact laws that promote opportunity and equity for all California’s women, I’m also committed to making sure these efforts are extended to the advancement of women in the Assembly,” Gonzalez told “I am very excited to work with my colleagues to seek solutions that break down barriers to employment, accommodate women’s roles in their families as well as their jobs, and bring a greater dose of equity to the workplace.”

The Select Committee on Women in the Workplace will focus on challenges faced by women in the workforce, including the changing role of women in society, how to ensure pay equity and opportunity for women, the health and well-being of women in the workplace, and the impact on family life, according to the State Assembly.

Select Committee on Women in the Workplace

The Assembly members of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace are:

  • Rob Bonta, D-Oakland;
  • Nora Campos, D-San Jose;
  • Brian Dahle, R- Bieber;
  • Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens;
  • Roger Hernández, D-West Covina;
  • Marc Levine, D-San Rafael;
  • Henry Perea, D-Fresno;
  • Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton;
  • Nancy Skinner, D-Los Angeles;
  • Marie Waldron, R-Escondido.

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