Brooklyn pols demand equal pay for women

Council Member Crystal Hudson, at podium, on the steps of City Hall with elected officials and supporters.
Office of Council Member Crystal Hudson

Two Brooklyn legislators have joined the chorus of calls for equal pay for women.

Newly-elected Council Member Crystal Hudson, representative for the 35h Council District in Brooklyn, who traces her roots to Jamaica, and New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn echoed the calls on March 15, the symbolic date when full-time working women’s wages equal the wages earned by full-time working men in the prior year on average.

“From fair pay to equal pay, women have been rallying for better and equitable wages for women everywhere,” said Hudson in a message to constituents on Tuesday.

Hudson – who, in November 2021, made history by being one of the first out gay Black women ever elected in New York City – said that, despite the symbolic parity, it’s still “less than half the story.”

“For every $1 a white man earns, a Black woman earns 64¢, and Latinx and Indigenous women earn just 56¢,” said Hudson, whose district comprises the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“Our system is broken, and women cannot continue to come out year after year making the same demands,” she added. “We want equal pay now!”

Hudson said it was “amazing to come together with colleagues on the steps of City Hall, for the first in-person press conference in two years, on Tuesday and demand equal pay for women.

“This is about more than equal pay,” she said. “It is about strengthening our communities, our families, and ensuring every single New Yorker can live with dignity.

“We joined a broad coalition of organizations, activists and other elected leaders to call on Gov. Hochul to sign the Fair Pay for Home Care Act,” Hudson told constituents. “We heard personal accounts from homecare workers and those who rely on home care, and the message was made loud and clear: this bill cannot wait.”

She said both the State Senate and Assembly have included fair pay in their one-house budgets, adding that “we’ll be joining advocates in Albany in the coming weeks to push for it to be included in the final state budget.”

Bichotte Hermelyn, who chairs the Task Force on Women’s Issues in the State Assembly and heads the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said: “As long as we don’t have equal pay, we don’t have equal justice.

“Today, signifies the day of the year that women’s wages catch up with men’s,” she said on Mar. 15. “For AAPI women, that day is May 3, for Black women, Sept. 21, and for Latina women that day does not come until Dec. 8.

“We are still living in a ‘broken rung’ system, where women do not progress to promotions at the same rate as men – and the pandemic has further rolled back women’s rights in the workplace – and pushed many out of the workforce altogether,” added the representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “Indeed, we have a long way to go to achieving true equality.

“Let us use the momentum of this day to continue to demand equal pay for equal work,” Bichotte Hermelyn urged. “To achieve that, we have to prioritize women all year round. We have to pass national paid parental leave policies, increase pay transparency, make childcare affordable for all, and expand opportunities and mentorship programs for female entrepreneurs.”