By DINA EXIL
A group of feminist and labor leaders on Tuesday announced a class action lawsuit against the city demanding equal pay for female school safety agents who, they say, get paid $7,000 a year less than their male counterparts.
“Mayor Bloomberg needs to stop turning a blind eye to these women school safety agents and this egregious example of gender pay discrimination,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the local branch of the National Organization of Women, on the steps of City Hall.
More than 5,000 current and former school safety agents, 70 percent of whom are women, have joined the wage discrimination suit, which organizers described as the largest such lawsuit in the nation.
Female school safety agents are paid about $32,000 annually, organizers said.
“Is the city really going to say that providing safety in New York public schools, is less of a responsibility than providing safety in homeless shelters, or a city office building?” said a representative for Teamster Union Local 237, nike lebron 11 arguing that school safety agents in general get paid less than other peace officers. “How can Mayor Bloomberg say that with a straight face?”
Union members charged that they have repeatedly tried to address the pay inequity through contact negotiations with the city Office of Labor Relations, but have received no response.
“Mayor Bloomberg needs to engage on this issue now,” said local president George Floyd. “We don’t understand why the city has chosen to drag this suit out against the brave women who are putting them themselves on the line each and every day to ensure the safety and well-being of our public school children.”
“Myself and others work for the New York City school and we protect the New York City children,” said Latricia Ellis, an agent for 13 years. “Most people think school safety agents sit at a desk and sign people in, but what they don’t understand is that we portal, we valuator weapons, drugs and make arrests just like police officers do.”
Two e-mail requesting reaction to the lawsuit from city officials went unanswered.
The retroactive settlement they are seeking is about $35 million. The suit goes to court on May 22.