Earlier today, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner gathered a group of women and men for a rally to recognize National Equal Pay Day. The event was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 in an effort to raise awareness about the gap between men's and women's wages.
During her remarks in front of the courthouse, Wagner highlighted local gender inequity in Allegheny County.
"We have applauded when national figures, like actress Patricia Arquette during her acceptance speech at this year's Academy Awards, called attention to gender wage equity," Wagner said. "But the question remains: What are we doing here in Allegheny County?"
But Wagner also used the public appearance as an opportunity to demonstrate what she has done for women and to take aim at Mark Patrick Flaherty, her challenger in the upcoming May primary election for county controller.
Wagner says a 2012 audit found that male workers in county government are disproportionately more highly compensated than their female counterparts. She says when she took office she worked to address disparities in the controller's office by promoting women to management positions and making sure entry-level workers were paid fairly.
Video by Ashley Murray
"We've worked in the controller's office to correct it," Wagner said. "To add insult to injury, my predecessor Mark Flaherty, who's now my opponent, refused to take part in that study that addressed gender equity because ironically he didn't want anyone to look at that data. That's not behavior that's good for government. That's not behavior that's good for women."
Wagner also talked about criticism being lobbed at her for taking a $23,000 cost-of-living increase when she took office in 2012. The cost-of-living increase was approved while her predecessor Flaherty was in office, but he did not take the pay increase.
For her part, Wagner says she would be be willing to return to a lesser salary, if her male counterparts do so as well.