Back a bill that would keep prior wages mum

To the Editor:

Most of us have probably encountered a situation when applying for a job where the employment application asks us to provide information about present and prior wages and salaries. I have always resented this question, figuring it is none of a prospective employer’s business how much I currently or previously earned.

There is a vast body of research establishing that, generally speaking, in the private sector, women are paid less than men for the same work and people of color less than whites. This has much to do with the current weak density of labor unions in the private sector and that employment applications often demand prior and current wage information.

Many of us earn much less than we are worth and, if employers know how little we have worked for, they may offer less than if they did not have this information. Allowing this kind of question to appear on employment applications perpetuates gender and racial wage disparities.

Albany County legislator Lynne Lekakis has introduced legislation with at least four co-sponsors (Local Law No. P) that, if enacted into law, would prohibit “employers from requiring job applicants to provide prior or current salary information before offering [someone] employment.”

This bill has been vetted within the legislature’s committees and may be voted on at the Oct. 10 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Albany County Courthouse on Eagle Street in downtown Albany. Prior to the meeting, public comments are taken at 6:30 p.m.   

I urge residents of Albany County to attend and raise your voice in support this bill and to help eliminate gender and racial salary and wage discrimination. Enacting this bill into law would be a huge benefit to the tens of thousands of women and people of color who work or might wish to work in Albany County.

I spoke in favor of the bill at both the August and September meetings saying that not only would passage of the bill favor women and people of color but that all workers would benefit from the enhanced privacy the law would provide.

Tom Ellis

Albany

Editor’s note: Tom Ellis is a member of the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District.