Boston Meter Maid Supervisors Shafted By Sex Discrimination, Union Says

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BOSTON – A union is claiming the city of Boston is discriminating against women because meter maid supervisors make less than supervisors in other departments with comparable jobs.

The union is asking a judge to force the city to study the pay disparity.

Parking meter supervisors, who are mostly women, make less than code enforcement officers and animal control officers, who are mostly men.

“The Union asserts that the minimal extra duties that the [code enforcement officers] and [animal control officers] perform do not justify the pay disparity. The duties are comparable if not identical in some instances,” an arbitrator wrote last year, summarizing the union’s position. “A review of the ratio of the number of women in the positions as compared to a total number of positions shows a case for discrimination. The Union does not assert this is purposeful discrimination but it is gender disparity nonetheless.”

The union contends that in accord with the existing contract the mere allegation should have triggered a study by the city “to look into that issue and dispel any appearance of discrimination,” the arbitrator wrote.

The arbitrator, Marsha Saylor, last year ruled that the city needs to review the pay classifications. But a December 31 deadline is looming and the study hasn’t even begun, according to the union.

City officials argue that the comparison of the jobs is a case of apples and oranges, because they have different duties. One example:  Code enforcement officers and animal control officers are on call, whereas meter maid supervisors are not.

City officials also argue that the union shouldn’t be able to challenge the pay classifications because the union effectively approved them when the two sides made the current collective bargaining agreement in 2010. The pay schedules are spelled out in the contract, which both sides signed.

But the arbitrator largely sided with the union after hearing the two sides last year.

“The numbers of women present in the positions and their relatively similar duties (though not identical) needs to be examined in light of the classification system,” the arbitrator wrote.

Lawyers for the union and the city appeared before the arbitrator on April 13, 2015. On August 10, 2015, the arbitrator gave the city’s Office of Human Resources 180 days to provide an assessment of the pay classifications. That deadline got pushed back a couple of times, most recently to Saturday, December 31, 2016.

City employees in the transportation department covered by the contract get a base salary according to pay grade and years of experience.

A parking meter supervisor at step 7 (meaning seven years of experience) earns an annual base salary of $52,214.40. A code enforcement officer and an animal control officer with the same level of experience earn an annual base salary of $56,473.70, or about $4,200 more.

The disparity is greater at higher levels.

A higher level of parking meter supervisor (known as “Parking Meter Supervisor I”) with seven years of experience earns an annual base salary of $61,083.24. That’s about $13,000 a year less than a code enforcement officer sergeant and a senior dog officer, who earn an annual base salary of $74,316.96.

There are about 150 parking meter supervisors at the lower level. About 62 percent are women.

Of the 19 higher-level parking meter supervisors (“Parking Meter Supervisor I”), 10 are women while nine are men.

By contrast, men dominate the ranks of code enforcement officers (12 of 13), animal control officer (five of seven), code enforcement sergeant (three of three), and senior dog officer (two of two).

The union is the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 93, which has an office in Boston. The complaint was filed Tuesday, December 27 in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.

A spokesman for the union could not immediately be reached for comment.

A city spokesman declined comment.