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Northern Westchester Hopeful, Despite Senate Rejection Of Equal Pay Bill

Jeanette Gerfin of Somers gave her opinion as she shopped in Katonah.
Jeanette Gerfin of Somers gave her opinion as she shopped in Katonah. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

NORTHERN WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Even though the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate rejected on Wednesday a bill to bridge the gap between the average salary for men and women, many in Northern Westchester are hopeful women will soon achieve equal pay.

Jeanette Gerfin of Somers was one of several to say Wednesday that they have never experienced pay discrimination, but have heard of it happening for years.

Tuesday, April 8, was Equal Pay Day, the day when the average woman’s salary catches up to the average man’s salary from the previous year, and President Barack Obama announced two executive orders to start bridging the pay gap. One prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against workers for talking about their salary.

“It was always considered good manners to not talk about your pay,” Nancy Hitchcock of Cross River said. “But, as a matter of professional advancement you do need to be aware of it.”

Hitchcock, who works in Katonah, said she likes the spirit of Obama’s executive orders, the second of which requires the Labor Department to collect summary data about salaries for federal contractors’ employees based on gender and race.

Woman still get paid 77 cents for every dollar a man gets paid, which Sal Ingrassia of Katonah said is ridiculous.

“Certainly I’ll try to put public pressure on my representatives because certainly somebody has to take the lead in trying to make society more fair economically and socially,” he said.

Hitchcock said she thinks women tend not to be as aggressive as men in asking for more money.

“They’re more discrete about comparing pay so it just sort of happens, sometimes without people even being aware of it. I do know that it definitely is a fact,” she said.

Susan Kirshner is part of a group going to Albany in a few weeks to advocate for state legislation to bridge the pay gap. The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots advocacy organization.

“Wage inequality is not only a continuing injustice, but a threat to families that worsens with time and eventually extends to pensions, unemployment benefits and even social security — all based on income,” Nancy Kaufman, chief executive officer of the National Council of Jewish Women, said in a statement on its website.

Diana DeCubellis, who runs a Katonah-based media production business, said pay equality is something that should have happened much sooner.

“For me it’s a no-brainer. But I think it’ll be a bloody battle the way everything else has probably have been a bloody battle,” she said, referring to the contentious relationship between Obama and Congress.