The November 20th General Meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature was another busy and productive day for Legislator Fleming, who introduced and secured passage of key legislation covering a variety of key priorities.
Fleming Fights Against the Gender-Based Wage Gap and Harmful Pay Discrimination Practices
Introductory Resolution 1856-2018, A Local Law to Restrict Information regarding Salary and Earnings (“RISE” ACT), which was introduced by County Executive Steve Bellone, and cosponsored by Legislator Fleming and others and passed with unanimous support, restricts pay history from being used by an employer during an interview process or when setting compensation for new employees.
The Legislature found that women and racial and ethnic minority workers are statistically proven to be paid lower wages across all positions and industries and unlikely to be successful in negotiating for salary, and that they can be negatively impacted by employers who rely on salary and wage history when making an employment offer. Restricting access to a prospective employee’s salary history will help break the cycle of wage discrimination and close the wage gap, because salary history is often used as a tool for setting wages, and thus can perpetuate the inequitable pay scale that women and people of color face with each successive job.
Women and racial and ethnic minority workers have historically encountered lower wages and salaries causing a wage gap that pervades all industries. A report issued in April 2018 by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) found that women in Suffolk County earn 78.1% of what their male counterparts earn, compared to the State-wide percentage of 86.8%. The same April 2018 NYSDOL study revealed that women of color in New York are faring worse than women of other racial identities, with African American or Black women earning 64.4% and Latino or Hispanic women earning 55.3% of what their male counterparts earn.
A 2016 analysis commissioned by the New York Women’s Foundation in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that if New York’s women were paid the same as comparable men, each would earn $6,600 more per year, an earnings increase that would add $29.6 billion to the state economy. If New York’s working women were paid the same as their male peers-men who are of the same age, have the same level of education, work the same number of hours, and have the same urban/rural status - it would reduce the poverty rate for the state’s women and their families by more than half, from 7.5 to 3.6 percent.
Legislator Fleming’s observation of gender barriers throughout her career as an elected official, an Assistant District Attorney and Sex-Crimes Prosecutor in Manhattan, and lawyer focusing on Matrimonial and Family Law as well as professional mediation made this a high priority for her.
“For decades there has been a persistent and significant gap in the pay for women performing comparable work to that of their male colleagues. The disparity is well known, and presents an obstacle to the success of women in the economy. It runs counter to the basic tenants of our nation, that we are all treated equally. It is a very real problem and this bill provides is a good fix.” Said Legislator Fleming.
Fleming led support of the bill during a debate at the General Meeting, offering a spirited rebuke to Legislator Steve Flotteron (R-Dist.11), who at points argued that the wage gap is a “myth”, and that Fleming’s arguments were based on emotion. At the conclusion of the exchange, Flotteron withdrew his motion to table the bill and instead voted with a unanimous Legislature to approve the measure.
Fleming Delivers Infrastructure Funding
Introductory Resolution 1903-2018; Introductory Resolution 1908-2018; and Introductory Resolution 1886-2018 appropriated funding for improvements to CR 38, North Sea Road; CR 79, Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike; and County Roads on Shelter Island, respectively.
Improvements will include the resurfacing and repaving, draining improvements, and improvements to curbs, sidewalks, shoulders, and traffic signals. Sidewalk improvements include the installation of mountable curbing in some locations that are safer for motorists, pedestrians, and wildlife.
“Improvements to these county roads are necessary for the safety and security of our residents and visitors on the East End. These are some of our most travelled roads that act as arteries for our downtown areas. The structural status of these roads are vital for daily life for the residents of the Second Legislative District. Not only are we repairing the roads but we are improving them as well by installing mountable, or shoulder-less, curbing where appropriate to increase safety for motorists and pedestrians and to allow for easier migratory patterns for wildlife.” said Legislator Fleming
Introductory Resolution 2004-2018, introduced by Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Dist. 15) and co-sponsored by Fleming, secured funding for necessary maintenance and security enhancements at the BOMARC site in Westhampton. Fleming serves on a Task Force created by P.O. Gregory looking at possible used for the site. The Task Force recommended that IR 2004-2018 be passed.
Improvements include the installation of additional fencing and upgraded security gates and guard booths to further secure the property where valuable property is held and has been damaged and vandalized by trespassers in the past.
“These upgrades to the BOMARC site are necessary to protect the property and to protect the taxpayers and prevent higher costs in the future.” said Legislator Fleming