Letters to the editor: 02-23-19

Transparency would close wage gap

In 2017 the median annual earnings for men in Hawaii was $51,594 compared to $41,664 for women — or 81 percent of what their male peers were paid. The Hawaii pay ratio ranked 23rd out of all states and the District of Columbia (Source: AAUW Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap – Fall 2018 edition).

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Addressing the gender pay gap can be a game-changer. Close to 52,000 family households in Hawaii are headed by women. Seventeen percent of these households have incomes that fall below the poverty level. If the pay gap were eliminated, a working woman in Hawaii would have enough money for 51 more weeks of food for her family.

Hawaii’s Equal Pay Act moves toward ending the pay ratio disparity between men and women. Since the beginning of 2019, Act 108 prohibits employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s salary history. Building upon Act 108, Rep. Aaron Johanson has introduced House Bill (HB) 1192 and Sen. Brian Taniguchi has introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1375.

If passed and signed by the governor, Hawaii’s law will be stronger than the Federal Equal Pay Act. The law will enable employees to talk openly about their salaries without retaliation and increase salary transparency by requiring employers to disclose salary ranges to current and prospective employees.

Employers benefit from increased salary transparency. Salary transparency can help employers control their pay expenses and ensure pay equity among their employees. By being upfront about wages before a job interview, employers save time by not interviewing job candidates who will eventually turn down the job offer. It is critical for employers to have rational explanations for the salary rate for all employees.

Transparent salary ranges that are clearly defined promote gender pay equity for all.

Caroline Kunitake

Holualoa

Car company market ripe for additional players

As a visitor to the Big Island, I am constantly amazed that auto rental opportunities are constrained by what one could call a “cartel” (emphasis on the CAR — wink, wink, nod, nod) of corporations and virtually nonexistent independent options for the traveler (tourist, foreigner, whomever).

I was last year on Maui able to rent a non-new car from an independent company for a little over half of what I would have paid at the airport.

Big Island has no such options. The only independent I have found was a mere $26 cheaper for 10 days, and the company did not have to pay airport taxes. As Trump would say, “So sad for you” — but I have a birth certificate and am not from Hawaii (my bad).

The Maui one-man car rental agency is making a very fine living — with older model cars, at a price travelers who are not rich can afford.

To me, it seems because of what evil cynics would call “collusion” on Big Island continues, a huge opportunity exists for regular folks to make a living by renting used cars to travelers for a reasonable price, not one equal to the airfare — or more.

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Timothy Pilgrim

Bellingham, Wash.