Letters: Mayor should stand up to Comcast on wage queries

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Mayor Kenney is waiting for a legal review of the proposed ban on asking job applicants their salary history before deciding whether to sign it.

Kenney, stand up to Comcast

Mayor Kenney, you are right - you did not get elected by Comcast ("Kenney hesitates on wage measure," Wednesday). Even though the company gave you $8,000 in campaign contributions, you are not beholden to it. The people of Philadelphia, especially women, need a break. By not signing the bill to make it illegal to ask for salary history, you will do a disservice to us. Stand up to the monopoly and big bully known as Comcast.

|B.J. Wright, Philadelphia, b.campbell1510@gmail.com

Chamber opposes pay history bill

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, not Comcast, is leading the veto request against flawed Philadelphia Bill No. 160840. Neither the chamber nor its members are leading an effort against wage equity, and the inflammatory suggestion otherwise in Thursday's editorial is irresponsible ("Just say no to Comcast"). In this matter, we represent members from various industries, including nonprofit, financial services, and real estate. We have opposed this bill from the beginning.

The salient points the editorial failed to cover are: there is no evidence that this is an effective approach to eliminating inequity. There is no intent within the bill to collect evidence and determine whether it is working. This bill restricts business opportunities and risks our shared vision of job creation and economic growth. We have submitted a proposal we believe targets wage equity with greater effect, and hope that in the absence of a veto, it is considered as a viable alternative.

|Rob Wonderling, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, rwonderling@chamberphl.com

Execs' compensation data exists

The article about a bill passed by Philadelphia City Council that would ban employers from asking job applicants for their salary history contained comments by senior Comcast vice president David L. Cohen that seemed rather odd ("Comcast fights plan to ban salary inquiries," Tuesday).

During my career with several large corporations as director of compensation and as an executive compensation consultant for a national consulting firm, I used competitive compensation data to establish executive pay levels, a common practice. This data, gathered and analyzed using advanced statistical techniques, included salary, bonus, and long-term incentive information, such as stock options. For top executives of publicly traded companies, this information is required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to be publicly disclosed.

Given the availability of competitive pay levels for executives, I am confused by Cohen's comments questioning how his pay would be determined if not using his own earnings history. It is difficult to believe that a company as large and sophisticated as Comcast did not have access to the data described above.

|Ken Lefkowitz, Medford, klefkowitz@aol.com

Ban wouldn't help women

Many employers do not intentionally pay women less than men when hiring for the same position. They simply act financially responsible by paying only enough to ensure that the candidate will come on board. I know, because I was one of those underpaid women, and I was also a hiring manager who discovered that she was perpetuating the pay inequities of prior employers.

Banning salary inquiries does nothing to fix this problem; awareness does. Simple, periodic audits of salaries by position and gender, done internally, become the leverage to stop underpaying women. Women also owe it to themselves to ask pertinent questions about the salary ranges for the positions they hold and to insist on being paid for performance.

There is nothing more empowering than looking one's manager in the eye and saying, "Sorry, but that is not acceptable. I am worth more than that."

|Joan Farrell, Egg Harbor Township, ocjoan@comcast.net

Hentoff spoke to pro-life women

As a moderate liberal, pro-life woman, I was very moved by the reprint of the 1988 antiabortion, anti-infanticide op-ed by Nat Hentoff, the recently deceased former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union ("Nat Hentoff, staunch liberal and antiabortion," Tuesday). His point that being pro-life should not be stereotyped according to the political spectrum resonates especially with women like me, who do not see the defense of unborn life as a denial of women's rights. Rather, it is an affirmation of the "ethic of life" versus the "consistent ethic of death" described in Hentoff's piece.

As a Catholic, it was poignant that Hentoff, while declaring himself an atheist, was able to embrace the pro-life theology of Cardinals Joseph Bernardin of Chicago and John O'Connor of New York. Also, by applying the reasoning of writer Mary Meehan, he made the essential point: Liberals have traditionally supported "the powerless, the helpless, the exploited."

We must choose the high road of life over the slippery slope of death.

|Gloria C. Endres, Philadelphia, sisglo@aol.com

Don't base abortion on disability

The Nat Hentoff op-ed raised several issues. His intense opposition to abortion, at variance with many of his other political positions, was focused on his opposition to aborting fetuses because prenatal testing showed some kind of disability. Now, nearly 30 years after he wrote the column, some doctors and (potential) parents-to-be still advocate for abortions based on disabilities.

It is not necessary to oppose all abortions to agree with Hentoff. Much of the disability community and many pediatricians understand that lives lived with disabilities can be just as rich and full as lives without them. We can still be for a woman's right to choose without giving parents the right to abort based on disability.

|Barbara W. Gold, M.D., and Stephen F. Gold, Philadelphia