08.09.13

It’s all connected to Cheap Labor Conservatism

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Corruption, Take Action at 12:04 pm by wcnews

We should all know by now that things like this don’t just happen, Perry vetoes bill on equal pay for women.

Leading Democratic senators on Friday said Gov. Rick Perry has vetoed a bill that would make it easier for Texas women to sue employers in state court over pay discrimination.

[...]

On average, women are paid only 77 cents for every $1 earned by men, according to a 2010 study by the National Committee on Pay Equity. Proponents noted that sometimes women do not learn that they are being paid unfairly low amounts until after the 180 day period has expired.

“Today, one man has stripped them of the ability to seek equal pay for equal work,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Kirk Watson of Austin.

Fort Worth Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis, who carried the bill in the Senate, said women prefer to take equal-pay complaints before elected state judges, to be decided by Texas jurors.

“I am very surprised that Governor Perry does not see the value in it,” she said. “It’s a statement of his absolute disregard for the challenges that women … face in their lives.”

Groups like ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been fighting for, and winning, this kind of control of our government for dedades, it’s why they exist. (For more see, ALEC at 40: Turning Back the Clock on Prosperity and Progress, and, A Bagful Of Cash: How the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Orchestrated a Corporate Takeover of Government.)

It was no shocker either when we found out who had Perry’s ear before he vetoed the “Equal Pay Act”, Perry vetoed wage bill after getting letters from retailers.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, who authored HB 950 mirroring the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, said she unaware that the group and the businesses opposed her bill, or that they sought a gubernatorial veto.

Among the businesses advocating for a veto was Kroger Food Stores.

“I shop at Kroger’s for my groceries,” Thompson said. “I shopped there just last week. I’m going to have to go to HEB now. I am really shocked.”

Also writing to seek a veto were representatives of Macy’s, the Houston grocery company Gerland Corp., Brookshire Grocery Company, Market Basket, the Texas Association of Business and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

HEB is a member of the Texas Retailers Association, but lobbyist Rusty Kelley said the company did not lobby against the bill.

The letters to Perry provide a behind-the-scene glimpse of the legislative process. Entities such as the Texas Retailers Association can seek a gubernatorial veto without the knowledge of sponsors. Thompson and her Senate counterpart, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, say they were blind-sided by Perry’s veto and the retailers’ opposition.

Veteran Austin lobbyist Bill Miller said seeking a gubernatorial veto is a common lobby tactic. “That’s a smart play. You don’t fade the heat (by publicly opposing a bill) on the front end and you win on the back end.” He said that, except for the Chronicle’s open records request, “no one would be the wiser. You do what you gotta do to protect your client.”

In other words better to advocate against equal pay in the dark, then in the sunlight. This is how our plutocracy works, especially in Texas. It’s also the long-standing policies of Cheap Labor Conservatism.  It’s clear that we need new leadership and it can’t, at least at this current time, come from anyone with an R next to their name.

It’s also why what state Sen. Wendy Davis said on Tuesday was so spot-on:

During the question-and-answer period that followed her speech, Davis was asked what chance she thought a Democrat really had at being elected into office in her notoriously red state.

“You know, I think the question really is: What chance do new leaders have of winning elected office in the state of Texas?” she said. “I think the best way to talk about that is to talk about what Texans want to see in their government, and not to talk about it in party frames.”

In both her speech and the question period, Davis laid out her case against the current leadership, talking not only of the recent anti-choice bill that drew national attention, but also of the legislature’s 2011 bill that “strip[ped] $5.4 billion from our already underfunded public schools.” That attempt prompted her first, less-heralded filibuster, which despite the bill’s ultimate passage (which led to the layoffs of some 10,000 teachers), bought time for parents and teachers to travel to the capitol to voice their opposition, Davis said.

Or as Kuff put it:

The long term answer is of course to elect better legislators and especially better Governors, which is much harder to do but will reap much bigger rewards.

Nothing will change until that’s done.  We must put people ahead of profits once again.

If you’re more of a visual learner Bill Moyers did a great history of ALEC:

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