Equal Pay for Equal Work

(undated but from the early 1970's) A DARE questionnaire about issues related to the grassroots organizing of working women. (1975)

(Editors Note: Gender discrimination in Chicago city employment was rampant before the advent of the women's movement. This press release by 5 Chicago aldermen substantiated the charges that groups like NOW, DARE, and Operation PUSH had been making.)

Five minority aldermen today charged that the city of Chicago continues to discriminate against women and minorities by its hiring practices and salary levels.

The charges, based on a 1974 study by the Chicago Reporter, were made by Aldermen William Cousins, Jr., 8th, Dick Simpson, 411th, Dennis Block, 48th, Ross Lathrop, 5th and Martin J. Oberman, 43rd, at the third of a series of press conferences on the Mayor?s proposed 1976 budget.

The study showed that only about one fourth of city employees are Black or Latino, although these groups made up 40 per cent of the city's 1970 population. Only 16 per cent of city employees are women.
"Chicago still has no city-wide affirmative action program to improve this situation," of hiring Latinos is even worse. Latinos represent only 1.4 per cent of city employees.

The women and minority employees who were hired are clustered in low-paying jobs, the aldermen said. The median salary of a black male employee is more than $1,500 less than the median figure for white males. The median salary for black women is about half that of white males.


The city Board of Examiners does not offer any of its trade?licensing examinations in Spanish, the aldermen said.

"As a result of this policy, Latino plumbers and masons who acquired skills in their native countries cannot practice their trade in Chicago There are only five licensed Latino plumbers in the city" Ald. Cousins said.


The aldermen charged that discrimination against women is particularly evident in the Custodial and Building Departments.

"Twenty-five years ago, 45 women were employed as janitresses in city hall. Now there are only 13," Cousins said.

The title of janitor has been changed to "custodial worker". While janitors and janitresses have always done the same jobs, the new requirements for the position of custodial worker include a physical performance test involving lifting heavy objects above the head. Therefore, women employees can only be custodial assistants, and receive less pay, the aldermen said.

"Fewer than ten inspectors in the Building Department are Latino and there are no women building inspectors," Cousins added.


The Superintendent of Police stated on November 21st, when he appeared before the City Council that 17 per cent of the sworn personnel of the Police Department are black or Spanish surnamed. The 1970 census shows that blacks and Latinos constitute over 40 per cent of the city's population. Clearly, blacks and Spanish-surnamed people are not fairly represented on the police force.