By Michael Howell
Stevensville Mayor Gene Mim Mack received a letter last week from Governor Steve Bullock expressing the governor’s appreciation for Mim Mack’s efforts at addressing longstanding, institutionalized inequities in the pay between men and women doing the same jobs.
“I want to congratulate you on your successful effort to increase the salaries of Stevensville’s Treasurer, Town Clerk and Utility Clerk to the average salary level of their male counterpart administrators,” wrote Bullock.
The governor recently started an “Equal Pay for Equal Work” taskforce for the State of Montana to research and address the problem of gender pay inequality.
“I admire your collaboration with others to construct a budget to rectify the gender discrepancy within Stevensville’s public office salaries… I appreciate you working alongside us to confront this challenge,” wrote Bullock.
Mim Mack said that it was watching a recent PBS special on the women’s rights movement that got him to thinking about it.
“They talked about gender pay inequity as an unresolved part of the movement,” said Mim Mack.
He said that the town had been working on some new job descriptions related to the Town, Police and Court clerk duties. He took it as an opportunity to look at job descriptions across the board in relation to possible pay inequities. He analyzed all the job descriptions and their required certifications. What he found, he said, was that certain jobs that appeared to have similar responsibilities and requirements started out at a lower pay scale than the others. When he looked at the current employees filling those jobs he noted that the low starting pay was in jobs traditionally and currently filled by women.
By taking out raises due to longevity he calculated the base rate of the salary at the start of the job and found that the positions of Treasurer, Town Clerk and Utility Clerk started at a base rate about 12% lower than other similar positions within the Town’s office.
Mim Mack said he first presented his findings and his recommendation to fix the discrepancy to all the employees and then presented it to the Council at the recent budget meetings. He said he heard no objections from the employees and the Council agreed with his analysis and included the 12% pay adjustment in the final budget.
“Once you’ve discovered a discrepancy like this, you have to solve it,” said Mim Mack, “It just can’t continue.”
Councilor Bill Perrin said he had worked in a number of businesses where salaries had to be adjusted after getting out of balance.
“The real issue is we want to be paying fair wages, first of all, because that’s how we keep employees,” said Perrin at a recent council meeting. “That’s what makes the town run and helps us to survive. I think it’s nice the Governor recognized that, but it is something we just need to do in our own community.”