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March 4, 2018

Advocacy Center Opposes Mississippi Bill

The Disciples Center for Public Witness joined with secular partners to oppose proposed legislation in Mississippi (HB1241) that would prevent local governments from exercising local control over fair pay and worker rights. To read the letter, please look below:

February 27, 2018
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Mississippi State Legislature 
Senate Finance Committee 
Jackson, MS 39215

Re: House Bill 1241 (Baker) – OPPOSE

Dear Senate Finance Committee Member:

As organizations with legal and policy expertise concerning the gender wage gap, and at the request of our partners in Mississippi, we write to strongly urge you to oppose House Bill 1241. HB 1241 is not an equal pay bill, and it will not benefit the state’s working men and women; instead, it is a bill that will set Mississippi back in its efforts to close the state’s wage gap and achieve economic security for its families.

HB 1241 is a harmful preemption bill that would prevent local governments from exercising local control. This bill would undercut the will of residents and threaten any local laws that ensure that residents are paid well and fairly, have predictable and stable work schedules, are free from discrimination, and have access to paid sick time and family leave–all policies which are crucial to women’s economic security and closing the wage gap in Mississippi.

To make this bill more palatable, Representative Mark Baker offered a misguided amendment purporting to address pay discrimination. Unfortunately, the amendment copies and pastes the federal law standard, with all of its loopholes and inadequacies that have allowed the wage gap to persist despite this law being on the books for over 50 years. The amendment would not give Mississippi women any more protections against pay discrimination than they already have in federal law, even though such protections are urgently needed in the state. Alone this would be troublesome, but the amendment then departs from existing federal law to carve out several categories of Mississippi’s working women from its equal pay protections—including professionals, executives, teachers, and anyone else who is not eligible for overtime pay. Moreover, the amendment would also limit the state government’s liability for pay discrimination, denying the full guarantees of basic fairness to the thousands of women who have committed themselves to public service.

Mississippi has one of the largest wage gaps in the country and the highest poverty rate for women in the nation. We know strengthening protections against pay discrimination and supporting efforts to increase wages and access to paid leave and predictable schedules are urgent priorities for the state. But, HB 1241 in its near entirety would make it harder for working people in Mississippi to get these crucial workplace protections and put on the books not simply a weak equal pay law, but a law that falls short of federal protections. In short, HB 1241 would set the men and women of the state back at a time when they should be moving forward, contributing to and enjoying the prosperity of our great nation.

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For these reasons and more, we stand with women’s and labor rights advocates on the ground in strongly opposing HB 1241 and urge you to oppose the bill as well.

If you have any additional questions, Andrea Johnson, Senior Counsel for State Policy at the National Women’s Law Center, (202) 319-3041, or Joi Chaney, Executive Director/Campaign Director of Equal Pay Today, 202-588-7616, are happy to answer questions.

Sincerely,

A Better Balance
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Association of University Women of Mississippi (AAUW-MS) Atlanta Women for Equality
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Equal Pay Today
Equal Rights Advocates
Feminist Majority
Feminist Majority Foundation
Gender Justice
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
National Organization for Women
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Committee on Pay Equity
National Employment Law Project
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Law Center
Southwest Women's Law Center
Women Employed
Women's Law Project


CC: Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Terry Burton Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves

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