By Martha Waggoner, International Chair
A number of members of The NewsGuild-CWA at the San Francisco Chronicle have filed discrimination complaints with California officials after the unit’s pay equity study found disparities that favored white men over people of color and women.
Caroline Grannan, unit chair at the Chronicle, said the members – both women and people of color — filed pay discrimination complaints with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. The investigation is underway, she said.
The complaints are based on the California Fair Pay Act, which doesn’t provide for age discrimination. Otherwise, Grannan said members likely would file complaints based on ageism.
“We’re upset to learn that some of our members have been paid unequally for all these years,” Grannan said. “We support their efforts to get some justice from the state.”
The NewsGuild, part of the Communications Workers of America, has focused on pay equity studies for a couple of years as an important human rights issue for locals to pursue. Locals reported on their studies at the 2017 sector conference, and Martha Waggoner, international chair, provided an update on those studies at the 2019 sector conference.
IAPE, which represents workers at the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones properties, led the way after a member requested a gender pay analysis. The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, The NewsGuild of New York and the Minnesota Newspaper and Communications Guild followed suit.
The unit’s 2016 study found that 100 percent of the 22 male reporters received overscale pay, while 72 percent – 15 of the 21 female reporters – received the pay. In addition, 60 percent of the $6,532 in overscale went to men while 39 percent went to women.
The study also found that median overscale pay of white employees is nearly twice that of nonwhites.
In September 2016, the unit asked to meet with Chronicle management to discuss the inequities. It sought remedial back pay and raises in base-level pay for affected employees.
The company refused to meet, saying it was in compliance with the California Fair Pay Act. The act strengthens existing law to address pay differences between men and women. It was later extended to cover pay differences based on race and ethnicity.
The unit filed a grievance, forcing managers to meet.
The managers eventually “produced its own analysis to supposedly counter the Guild’s, presented in an incomprehensible, highly technical way designed to confuse and intimidate the audience,” Grannan said. “Journalists are somewhat familiar with that kind of strategy, of course.”