Tuesday, April 9, 2013



For more information:
Nina Rothchild, former Commissioner, Department of Employee Relations, hvalj@aol.com or 651-426-2535
Eliot Seide, AFSCME  - contact Jennifer.munt@afscmemn.org or 651-287-0575
Patty Tanji, Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota , ptanji1@gmail.com or 651-271-1462


ST. PAUL, MN –  Today Minnesota put a positive spin on National Equal Pay Day by celebrating 30 years without a pay gap between women and men in state government jobs.   “Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into 2013 women must work to earn what men earned in 2012,” said Patty Tanji, president of the Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota.  “Nationally, women now earn 77 cents, on average, for each dollar earned by men.  It’s a little bit better in Minnesota, where the overall average is 80 cents.  But for state employees, we have had 30 years of women and men receiving equal pay for work of equal value.”

Governor Mark Dayton today signed a proclamation acknowledging equity in pay rates of male and female state employees.  Presented by Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon, the proclamation honors the State Employees Pay Equity Act of 1982 requiring equal pay for work of equal value. That law has now been fully implemented and maintained for 30 years.

“Thirty years ago, the people of Minnesota showed that equity and equality are not just words; they are values we live by in this state,” said Prettner Solon. “By passing the first legislation mandating equal pay for equal work, Minnesota showed the nation that we were ready to be leaders on pay equity.  We have a responsibility to ourselves and our daughters to continue working for full pay equity in Minnesota which is a critical issue for children and families across Minnesota.”
Nina Rothchild, former Minnesota Commissioner of Employee Relations (1983-1990), noted that the law passed the legislature on a bipartisan basis in 1982, unanimously in the Senate and with only 13 “no” votes in the House.  The legislation was signed by Republican Governor Al Quie.  DFL Governor Rudy Perpich, elected in the fall of that year, appointed Rothchild with instructions to “make it happen.”  No special appropriation or new staff positions were needed.  She noted the wisdom of then-Senator Linda Berglin, chief author of the law, who was known for requiring state agencies be held accountable for legislative mandates.   Employee relations are now managed by Minnesota Management and Budget, which is required by the 1982 law to submit an annual report noting any corrections needed to ensure pay equity continues.   Rothchild also noted the state law’s success led to passage of the Local Government Pay Equity Act in 1984, which covers 1,500 other government employers – cities, counties, and school districts – in Minnesota.

Eliot Seide, director of AFSCME Council 5, acknowledged the law would not have passed or been implemented without the support of the state’s largest union.  “We served on the Council on the Economic Status of Women Task Force to oversee the analysis.  We worked with every AFSCME member across the state to make sure they understood that this was not something taken away from the men but rather equalized things for the women.  And the equal pay state employees receive to this day would not have happened without both management and labor working through, every step of the way, the collective bargaining process.”

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