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16 William Mitchell Law Review 1223 (1990)


In 1992 Minnesota became a pioneer in the arena of equal pay for equal work by enacting the Minnesota Local Government Pay Equity Act/Comparable Worth Law (“CWL”), which allocated nearly $22 million to remedy wage disparities between female dominated and male dominated classes at the state level. Each local government had to determine a new pay level for public employees taking into account whether it was a male or female dominated field. Many of these determinations were challenged by unions basing their challenges on two primary themes: (1) the methodologies used were flawed; (2) the determinations were invalid because the collective bargaining process was not utilized. These claims and challenges are working their way through arbitration, and arbitrators have little guidance from the legislature on how to analyze them. This article seeks to identify the arguments advanced in support of each school of thought and how each is dealt with at the arbitration level. The article concludes that the debate between each school of thought continues and the parties and arbitrators are left to define the parameters of the debate between the two, despite the fact that the legislature attempted, in 1990, to provide clearer direction on arbitration of issues arising under the Pay Equity Act.


This article is co-authored by Phyllis Castle Marion.