Wednesday Letters: We must continue to close the gender pay gap

PROTECTING ITEMS IN FLOODS A HANDY TIP I regret I didn’t share this tip before Hurricane Irma. But there will be another hurricane. And perhaps another flood, too. Many years ago, during a high water event on the Trout River, I realized that tarps — used upside down — are good protection to protect my furniture. I saved my couch by moving it out from the wall and spreading a tarp that was more than 6 feet wide — and longer than the couch — on the floor. Then I moved the couch on top of the tarp and wrapped it up like a Hershey’s kiss. I used bungee cords to pull up the corners and middle section, but I’m sure rope or duct tape would work just as well. The water rose over a foot during that nor’easter. But my couch emerged totally dry. It’s a great tip to keep in mind. Luann Bennett, Jacksonville ^ CORPORATE TAXES TOO BURDENSOME A recent letter writer stated that 83 percent of the tax cuts in President Donald Trump’s recently passed tax plan will go to “rich corporations.” But in order to pay corporate taxes, these rich corporations currently have four methods they can pursue: • They can hold down their other costs. But that means fewer employees, a higher unemployment rate and more government dependence (even though most people really want to work). • They can raise prices. • They can have less competitive export prices. But that means a higher trade imbalance and fewer American jobs and exports. • They pay out lower dividends, which in turn lead to lower stock prices. Remember, high corporate taxes are not our friend. In reality, they actually hurt us far more than help us. Bruce A. Fouraker, Mandarin GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS THEY PROTECT US It is stunning that President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress seem to keep looking for ways to wage war on regulations that protect safety, eliminate pollution, Continue Reading

With student debt rising, attorney general calls for legislation regulating lenders

One of every seven adults in Washington owes money they borrowed to pay for college or career training, and taken all together, those borrowers owe more than $24 billion in student loans. A report detailing student-loan indebtedness, released Thursday, forms the backdrop of a push by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson for legislation that would give college borrowers greater safeguards against deceptive loan practices. The bill, which died in the Senate after he requested it last year, would set new standards for student-loan servicers and give the state the authority to license and regulate those servicers. About 800,000 Washington borrowers owe money on student loans, a number that has increased by about 35 percent in the last decade, according to the report by Ferguson’s office. Over that time, public and private college and university tuition skyrocketed, and many more students attended a growing number of for-profit colleges. “The numbers are staggering,” Ferguson said. “We have a big problem, and it’s getting worse, at the highest level … the impact could be profound for our state and our country if this trend continues.” The Democrat has made college borrowing one of the themes of his tenure during the past year, even as the Trump administration changed some of the rules for borrowers who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges that later went out of business. Ferguson said one of the most troubling figures in the report is the number of borrowers age 60 and over. They have increased by more than 35 percent in the last five years in Washington and hold student-loan debt of $2.1 billion. He said he’s talked to a number of 60-plus borrowers who co-signed for a son or daughter’s college loan and are responsible for the payments. Those loans can have a devastating effect on retirement plans, he said. Student debt also varies by gender and socioeconomic status, according to the report. Women hold nearly Continue Reading

CUNY architect suing university over gender pay gap

A veteran, Ivy League-educated CUNY architect is suing the university for allegedly paying her less than male colleagues with less experience and education. Kay Xanthakos, a chief architect with the City University of New York for 21 years, claims in a gender-discrimination lawsuit that she earns $11,000 less than a former underling who is not a licensed architect. She supervised the man until he was promoted to a position equal to hers in 2006. Another male co-worker, the director of construction, was hired just two years ago and has no college degree, but earns $33,000 more than Xanthakos, according to court papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court. The graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe and Columbia University, says she has asked CUNY for raises and brought up the pay disparity multiple times since 2007, when new male directors were hired and she began to notice changes in the facilities, planning, construction and management division. Since 2008, only men have been hired for the engineering services staff and from 2008-2015, all the directors and assistant directors hired in the department of design, construction and management were men. Her complaints have gone ignored, she claims, and her supervisor has retaliated by curbing her job responsibilities and excluding her from projects and meetings. She’s asking the court to promote her to a higher position and pay her for the income she would have earned if had been given promotions. CUNY spokesman Frank Sobrino told the Post: “We cannot comment on pending litigation, but as a public university system, CUNY adheres to all federal, state and city laws and regulations regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action.” Continue Reading

Why We Can’t Strip Race Out of the Gender Wage Gap Conversation

April 8 was Equal Pay Day, the day by which women will have theoretically worked enough to catch up to what men made the year before. In honor of that, the Senate voted on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill aimed at giving women a little more power to fight wage discrimination, which Republicans unanimously blocked. While some Republicans claim they care about the wage gap and just object to what they see as burdensome regulation, other conservatives have been calling the idea of the gender wage gap itself into question. It is a fair question to ask what causes the gap. While it’s true that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes when they work full-time, year-round, it’s also true that this figure can obscure various factors that aren’t purely discriminatory. Work experience plays a role. Industry and occupation play a role. Education can play a role. In trying to figure out how much of the wage gap is discrimination and how much can be explained by other factors, nearly every statistician conducts regression studies that take measurable factors into consideration by holding them constant and seeing what’s left over. From government agencies like the Office of Personnel Management and the Government Accountability Office to women’s advocacy groups like AAUW to economists like Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn, a similar group of factors are held constant to find the “unexplained” gap, or the murk where bias would rear its head if it does exist. One of those constant factors is race. At first blush, this makes sense. All of these researchers are striving to compare the most apple-like of apples to apples—a woman and a man who look as identical as possible and therefore should be paid the same. Therefore, they compare a woman to a man with the same job tenure, seniority, occupation, marital status and race, or in other words, measurable differences. Discrimination will crop up when everything they can Continue Reading

Disrupt the disrupters: Uber’s comeuppance is the moment for the U.S. to finally start regulating the so-called sharing economy

Travis Kalanick's forced resignation as the CEO of Uber is a great symbolic end to the adolescence of the "sharing" economy. Uber and other companies that claimed space in this invented arena may now have to acknowledge that they are not actually new and different from everything that went before them. And the rules that apply to their competitors also apply to them. Uber under Kalanick was in many ways the poster child for the sharing economy. The company insisted that all the rules that governments had put in place to regulate the taxi industry — to protect workers and to prevent discrimination — didn't make sense for the new model, because they were Uber. The company's effective motto, that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission, seemed to cry out for a swift slap to the face. Taxis are hardly new, but the Uber gang claimed that the whole set of regulations developed around the industry didn't apply to them because they were an app-based "ride hailing" platform, not a taxi company. This was, and is, garbage; as are most of the claims for the "newness" and "uniqueness" of the sharing economy companies. There is very little that is genuinely unique about this set of companies, but they insistently claim that they are reinventing everything but the wheel. Take, for example, Airbnb, the other towering pillar of the sharing economy. What exactly is new and unique about renting out rooms in a house, or even about renting whole apartments? This one probably dates back to pre-historic times. Airbnb has people marketing this service over the Internet, in a single, easily organized directory. That is certainly newer, but the Internet has been around for two decades and so has been the practice of using it as a way to market rooms for rent. The only thing that was really new about Uber, Airbnb and the other sharing economy companies was the claim that they should be exempt from longstanding rules and regulations. Uber Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton blasts Obama’s proposed $90M cut to anti-terror funds for New York in sitdown with Daily News

Hillary Clinton saw something — and now she’s saying something. The Democratic presidential front-runner, during a wide-ranging sitdown with the Daily News editorial board, railed against a $90-million funding cut to federal anti-terror funding for New York. TRANSCRIPT: HILLARY CLINTON MEETS WITH NEWS EDITORIAL BOARD Her stance aligns her with city leaders, including Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, against a controversial proposal by President Obama that would adversely affect the ability of the city — the nation’s top terror target since 9/11 — to protect itself. CLINTON, SANDERS FIGHT FOR UNION SUPPORT BEFORE DEM PRIMARY “We need it, we need it! I want it!” Clinton said during a Saturday sitdown with reporters and editors from The News, referring to federal homeland security funding for New York. “I don’t agree with the Obama administration on that.” She vowed to fight for the loot. “I have a great confidence in and commitment to making sure that New York has all the homeland security funding that it needs from the federal government and I believe that its request is reasonable and I would very much want to see the Obama administration produce that $90 million it has otherwise decided to withhold,” she said. The stinging rebuke of her former boss comes just months after the White House released a 2017 budget that called for slashing funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) — which pays for anti-terror ventures in large U.S. cities like New York — from $600 million to $330 million. TRANSCRIPT: BERNIE SANDERS MEETS WITH NEWS EDITORIAL BOARD The potentially dangerous proposal was immediately blasted by a chorus of city leaders, including Bratton, who called the move “indefensible.” Mayor de Blasio traveled to Washington last month to testify that the city needed more Continue Reading

Phoenix leaders seek equal pay for female workers

Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Kate Gallego said they want to create an equal-pay ordinance that includes mechanisms to enforce such a policy for the numerous contractors doing work on behalf of the nation's sixth largest city.The announcement came on what activists call "Equal Pay Day," the day on the calendar that marks the extra time the average American woman would need to work to earn as much as her average male counterpart did in the previous year.Women across the country earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to U.S. Census figures. Arizona's pay gap is the smallest of the states, with women earning roughly 87 cents for every dollar a man makes.Still, Stanton and Gallego, both Democrats, expressed alarm at the lingering wage disparity. Gallego will lead the effort to examine city policies and present her findings to the City Council later this year."We have a responsibility to do something about it, and we can take the lead in Phoenix by making sure that companies who do business with the city pay equal wages for equal work," Stanton said in a news release.Phoenix's effort comes as President Barack Obama took actions Tuesday to combat pay inequity among the employees of federal contractors.Obama signed an executive order banning contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. He also signed a presidential memorandum establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit compensation data to the Department of Labor,Republicans have resisted a push from Obama and congressional Democrats to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require companies to prove that pay differences among men and women are due to factors independent of gender.They have dismissed Obama's executive action and Senate Democrats' push on the Paycheck Fairness Act as a "desperate political ploy." In a memo, they point out that federal law already makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender."The Continue Reading

Phoenix takes on gender pay gap

When Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego thinks about the wage gap between men and women in the city, her mind quickly turns to ZIP code 85040.In that struggling pocket of her south-Phoenix district, the pay disparity between sexes could mean the difference between a man having enough to cover his family's bills while a single mother does not, Gallego fears.A single, working mother in the area typically earns about 78 cents for every dollar a single father earns, or $22,400 versus $28,700, according to a 2013 estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.Both salaries fall far below Maricopa County's median household income of about $53,596, but Gallego said she can't help but notice the disparity is worse for women in low-income areas. Countywide, women earn about 83 cents for every dollar a man earns. LAST YEAR: Phoenix leaders seek equal pay for female workers"Small gains in compensation could make life substantially easier," she said, noting the inequity is most striking for racial minorities. "I believe the equal-pay gap is real and is something we can address."Gallego and a task force of experts on women's issues are pushing a proposal to fight the compensation gap between men and women in Phoenix, the nation's sixth-largest city, by suggesting changes to its non-discrimination ordinance and increasing education efforts.Their proposal wouldn't create new regulations. Instead, it would make explicit that city rules mirror federal law on the issue.While the pay gap between men and women in Arizona is smaller than in many other states — women in the state, on average, earn 82 cents for every dollar a man does, compared with 77 cents on the dollar nationally — there are areas, such as communities with large minority populations, where the inequity is more apparent.Women's advocacy groups say that disparity adds up over time, and a typical woman working full time earns hundreds of thousands of dollars less over her career.What portion of that pay gap can Continue Reading

Business groups try to quash federal equal pay project

WASHINGTON — Business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are pressuring the Trump administration to kill an Obama-era initiative designed to reduce wage disparities by requiring big employers to report pay data based on race, gender and ethnicity.The Obama administration had proposed the new requirement to bolster federal investigations of possible pay discrimination and encourage employers to evaluate their own pay practices as women’s salaries continue to lag behind those of men.But an ad-hoc coalition of business associations asked President Trump’s budget office to review and reject the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s requirement, saying the data collection is too onerous and expensive.“If ever there was a regulation that imposed an incredible amount of burden with no utility ... it’s this one,” said Randy Johnson, a senior vice president with the Chamber. “It was pushed through under the prior administration because it met a political goal. But as far as the substance and merits, there just isn’t any that would justify it being kept on the books.”Johnson said the Office of Management and Budget hasn’t responded to a March 20 letter the Chamber sent with 26 other business associations to the director, Mick Mulvaney, requesting the review. But he said the issue is among the Chamber’s top labor priorities.“I think the agency will take care of this,” he said. “It’s such a gross abuse of regulatory power on the part of the EEOC.”Trump’s stance on pay equity has been somewhat murky.He has said he supports pay based on performance, but he expressed concerns in 2015 about equal pay legislation if “everybody ends up making the same pay,” likening such a result to “a socialist society.” His daughter Ivanka, however, pledged during the campaign that her father would fight for “equal pay for equal Continue Reading

Corrections & Clarifications

To report corrections & clarifications, contact:Please indicate whether you're responding to content online or in the newspaper.The following corrections & clarifications have been published on stories produced by USA TODAY's newsroom: February 2018Life:An earlier version of this report incorrectly credited the 1996 Summer Olympics performance of The Power of the Dream. Celine Dion sang the theme at the opening ceremony; the song was performed again at the closing ceremony by Rachel McMullin and a choir of other children.​ Sports: A previous version of this graphic incorrectly located hockey player Megan Keller's hometown on the map. Sports: An earlier version of this story misidentified the U.S. hockey player who is quoted in the third paragraph. Opinion: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized who could receive a tax credit for campaign donations. It would be refundable and available to all Americans who file taxes. Sports: A photo in some editions Feb. 8 incorrectly identified the person next to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The person was special teams coach Joe Judge. Sports: A headline in some Feb. 12 editions had an incorrect result of Serena and Venus Williams’ doubles match in the Fed Cup. The sisters lost. Twitter: On Feb. 11, a previous tweet misidentified Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson. Continue Reading