Mayoral candidate Eric Adams joined New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) employees at a rally in Queens on June 14, demanding racial and gender pay equity.
The rally occurred as the latest poll has former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia running a close second behind Adams in the race to become the 110th mayor of New York City.
During the following Q&A, Adams addressed claims that he was only criticizing Garcia because she was second in the latest polls. He said that the sanitation workers approached him when they learned that their former boss was running for mayor.
“They reached out to me and said, ‘We need you to highlight what is happening to us. We don’t want people to vote for someone without knowing the record of how she created an environment where Blacks, Hispanics, and women were treated unfairly,'” Adams explained.
Earlier this year, 13 Department of Sanitation enforcement agents filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the city, alleging that women and minority employees were subject to unequal pay at the agency and charging that white and male employees make twice as much money as their female and black and brown colleagues.
Surrounded by a group of New York’s Strongest, representatives of other city agencies, and elected officials, Adams called out the need to ensure equal pay in all city agencies. He pointed out pay inequity was not only prevalent in the DSNY but has seeped into all city agencies.
The leading mayoral contender referred to a City Council study conducted last year revealing that non-Hispanic workers earn $8,700 more than Latino employees.
Black and Brown workers earn $7,600 less a year than white workers. The analysis also showed that male city workers earn $4,500 more than women occupying the same position.
Calling the disparity in pay an embarrassment to the City, Adams said that the results of this audit should be made public “because if we don’t shed light on this, then we’re never going to expose what it is” and called for monthly audits.
The 1st President of the Law Enforcement Benevolent Employees Association (LEEPA), Jakwan Rivers, representing the sanitation enforcement agents, called out Garcia for permitting discriminatory practices to happen while she ran the agency.
“We find it insulting that Commissioner Garcia would say that she will be a mayor for the city when you couldn’t even be a leader for the agency,” Rivers said. “You were the Commissioner of Sanitation, and all these discriminatory practices were done under your tour. And you did nothing to right the wrongs of a systematic system that keeps women down.”
According to Yolanda Moore, 3rd vice president of LEEPA and Rivers, they brought the discriminatory practices to Garcia’s attention countless times, who told them to talk to the president of the Municipal Labor Council.
“Why would we speak to another union leader about negotiating with the city?” Rivers asked.
Maria Figaro, one of the thirteen employees who filed the claim with the EOOC, said that former Commissioner Garcia was aware of the work conditions and the discrimination.
“But unfortunately, she didn’t do anything,” Figaro said.
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar from Queens, who worked on a pay equity case as a civil rights lawyer, said with primary day around the corner on June 22, said voters should ask “why under Commissioner Garcia six-year tenure, women and people of color were funneled into lower-paying jobs compared to their white, male counterpart.”
Adams also promised that as mayor, he would settle the lawsuit and that he would also take steps to move civil servants to middle-class status.
“The greatest blemish on our city is that we have people [city workers] who make salaries that have them live in shelters. That is not acceptable,” he declared.