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ABQ mayor expects to tighten requirements for pay-equity incentive

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry says he will work with the City Council early next year to encourage companies to narrow the gap between what they pay men and women for similar work.

Nineteen companies are now certified for a 5 percent preference in the bidding process when they seek a city contract, based on their efforts at pay equity.

They had to show they pay women at least within 10 percent of what they pay men in comparable jobs.

Berry and City Councilor Diane Gibson said Monday that they expect to propose amendments that will tighten the requirement to a lower percentage. They didn’t reveal what number they expect to consider.

But the goal, Berry said, is to have no difference at all in the pay of men and women. That isn’t necessarily practical right away, however, because women make about 23 percent less than men for similar work nationwide, the mayor said.

“We can do better,” he said in a news conference. “Our goal has always been to get to zero or as close to zero as possible.”

Supporters of the pay-equity legislations, adopted last year, say it was the first of its kind at the municipal level. Since then, Albuquerque leaders have heard from San Francisco, New York City and other governments across the country interested in similar incentives, they said.

Saiz Trucking and Earthmoving Inc. is the first company qualifying for the preference to win city work, Berry said.

The company is an on-call contractor that helps build parks.

Larry Saiz, president of Saiz Trucking, said the company didn’t have to adjust anyone’s pay to qualify for the incentive. It already works to pay men and women the same for similar week, he said, a fact that had to be documented for certification with the city.

“I believe in paying people for what they know, not who they are,” he said.

Berry said the city itself is also trying to bridge the pay gap. The city used to pay women about 11 percent less than men — a figure that’s been cut to 5 percent, he said.