Congressional hearing. Responding to events in the news just the day before, council member Noelle Royer of Seattle got the council’s support for leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to speak out about a congressional hearing held Feb. 16 involving religious liberty and mandated coverage of contraception under the nation’s new health care law.
At issue was a hearing presided over by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, a Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The first panel of five witnesses to address the committee included no women.
The council passed a resolution asking that Linda Valentine, who is the council’s executive director, and the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness communicate with Issa and the committee, raising concerns about the way the hearing was conducted and “urging them to listen to other religious voices, including those of women and mainline Protestants.”
Council committees. After considerable discussion, the council approved a reorganization of its mission committee structure – creating four newly aligned committees with the names Justice, Leadership, Finance and Worshipping Communities.
Special Offerings Advisory Task Force. On Feb. 16, the council approved the recommendations of the Special Offerings Advisory Task Force. The task force has set a goal for the PC(USA) to raise $20 million from the offerings by 2020. It also is recommending that the General Assembly eliminate the Peacemaking Offering (funding peacemaking endeavors instead through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering) and that it create a new offering to support world mission.
Pay equity. The council issued a call for a more comprehensive pay equity study for the PC(USA) staff. One study already has been done of pay equity of the denomination’s national staff, in response to a referral from the 2008 General Assembly.
But Gloria Albrecht, chair of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, raised concerns that the initial study is not comprehensive enough – that it doesn’t provide enough data to analyze possible disparities in pay and work assignments.
What’s been produced already is a good first step, “but it’s not yet a pay equity study” – it doesn’t go far enough, Albrecht told the council’s Justice Committee on Feb. 16.
A complete study, she told the council, would also consider patterns – such as whether women or employees of color have been hired disproportionately in particular job categories. In the PC(USA), for example, nearly 60 percent of racial ethnic women work as administrative support workers, Albrecht said.
Often, there are stereotypes of what constitutes “men’s work” and “women’s work” – and jobs filled mostly by men tend to pay more than those filled mostly by women or by people of color, Albrecht said. It’s also important, she said, for a study to consider not just wages within a job category, but at the pay rates for comparable job categories.
“This does not give you enough information,” Albrecht said of the current study. Valentine said the study had been produced by the denomination’s human resources department with help from outside consultants, and that “we’d be happy to hear what the concerns are.”
The council passed a measure calling for a pay equity study to be developed in consultation with the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, and for the results of the study to be reported back to the council.