Editor’s note: Janet Scott is a CCDEC Precinct Captain. She shares a Labor Day story.
“Equal pay for equal work should apply to all people who work at the same job and doing the same work. It should apply not only to women doing the same work as men, but also include anyone doing the same job”, says Janet Scott. In her career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Scott saw favoritism as new employees were started at higher wages than she was earning.
Just shy of 20 years of service, Janet worked for the State of Florida as at G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital. The psychiatric hospital located in De Soto County was closed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002.
Scott wanted to continue her career in state service so that she could retire with full benefits. She found a Florida Health Department job working as a school nurse in the De Soto County school system. Because she had to take her job as a new employee, Scott lost all of her 20 years of seniority and the pay raises she had already earned. She had to take starting pay.
Scott discovered that newly-hired school nurses with less qualifications than her were getting higher starting pay than what she was earning. Her supervisors knew she did good work. “They sent new employees to me to train. They (supervisors) would say, ‘Send the new people to Janet. She always does her work right'”. But the new employees doing the same job as Scott started at higher pay.
“I was being penalized for being a long-term state employee. I had to keep my job to get my retirement”. When she asked for higher pay, she was told that her work as in public health as a school nurse “wasn’t bringing in money for the Health Dept”. The Health Dept. administrators didn’t want to give her raises. Without help from a union, Scott had no recourse.
Eventually, she got a pay raise. A turnover of supervisors brought a supervisor who was sympathetic to Scott’s situation. The supervisor “fought for me to get a raise”, Scott said.
After 35 years of working for the State of Florida, Scott retired in 2018. She said Florida has strange rules regarding retirement pensions. “I couldn’t work at the voting polls for a year after retiring or I could lose my benefits”. Scott she inadvertently learned about that restriction when calling the Florida Retirement System about a completely different problem.
Another issue is the high cost of health insurance for retirees. “I paid $50 per month for health insurance when I was working as a state employee. Now that I’m retired, I’m paying $738 per month for the same coverage”.
Scott says her work at the state Health Dept. was very frustrating because she was underpaid. “People would say, ‘Why don’t you quit and work somewhere else?’ But I couldn’t quit because I would lose my retirement”.