By ERIC TICHY
OBSERVER Mayville Bureau
The Democratic candidate for the 150th Assembly District seat is criticizing his Republican counterpart over an equal pay bill that has stalled in the state Senate.
In a largely critical press release, Rudy Mueller, D-Lakewood, called out state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, for his refusal to back the Fair Pay Act. The three-piece legislation, which has all but died in the Senate, would make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate based on gender, race or national origin.
Mueller pulled no punches, calling Goodell's no vote "irrespective" to working women in New York state. The former county legislator also called on state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, to revisit the bill.
"It's time for Sen. Young and the rest of her colleagues to act," Mueller said. "Women in Chautauqua County and New York state deserve better.
"Considering females in this state are paid on average 83 cents for every dollar earned by a male counterpart, and a female could be underpaid several hundred thousand dollars over a lifetime of work when compared to a male doing the same job."
When reached for comment, Goodell fired off a release of his own - noting that "equal pay for equal work" has been on the books in New York state for almost 50 years.
"The bill Mueller supports, however, would require equal pay for entirely different jobs, based on a government evaluation that the entirely different jobs were somehow comparable," Goodell said.
He added: "The bill Mueller supports would have a horrific impact on the business climate in New York state; would result in substantial job losses in Chautauqua County and across New York State; and would create a huge and intrusive government bureaucracy to review innumerable private sector wages."
Regardless, Mueller noted that nurses' aides and orderlies, and cooks and chefs are two examples of similar job descriptions but with different titles and pay scales between men and women.
Goodell's vote against the Fair Pay Act "clearly shows he does not favor equal pay for equal work," Mueller said. "He introduced no amendments but instead charged jobs will be lost and the free market system will be destroyed."
However, the legislation, Goodell noted, was strongly opposed by the New York State Business Council, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the New York Hospitality and Tourism Association.
Mueller, however, said the Minnesota Legislature in 1984 passed similar legislation for their public employees with favorable results.
"For nearly three decades now Minnesota residents have consistently enjoyed lower unemployment rates when compared to New York," he said. "And Minnesota has an equal, if not more vibrant, free-market economy."
It's not the first time Goodell has come under fire for failing to back the legislation. In May, the Jamestown branch of American Association of University Women questioned the former county executive for not supporting the bill in the Assembly.
"Unlike my opponent, I am not willing to support legislation that would replace the free market economy with government-regulated wage rates, severely hurting our economy and costing local jobs,"Goodell said.
"We need legislation to build our economy and create middle class jobs, not legislation that will drive employers from New York state."
Sen. Young could not be reached for comment.