Following the Houston Chronicle's revelation that Macy's, Kroger Food Stores, Gerland Corp., Brookshire Grocery Company, and Market Basket sent letters to Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) advocating that he veto bipartisan legislation ensuring that Texans can take wage discrimination cases to our state courts, Progress Texas started a petition: Boycott Macy's & Kroger Until They Support Equal Pay! There's more background regarding HB 950 below; those who are familiar with this legislation may want to skip to the "Why Boycott Macy's and Kroger?" section.
It was a pleasant surprise when the Republican-controlled Texas legislature passed HB 950—our state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009—with bipartisan support and sent it to GOP Governor Rick Perry for his signature back in May. Yet recalling how Gov. Perry has consistently pandered to his big business cronies, I pointed out:
When HB 950 gets to his desk, Republican Governor Rick Perry should not be afraid to sign this bill. After all, businesses get to decide whether or not to pay all of their employees fairly:Exactly. Well, Gov. Perry waited until June 14th, which was after the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature had adjourned, to veto HB 950, claiming,
"Employers who are doing the right thing and treating women fairly don’t view this bill as a threat," said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who sponsored the bill in the Senate. "Equal pay decisions should be made in the CEO's office rather than a courtroom."
Texas' commitment to smart regulations and fair courts is a large part of why we continue to lead the nation in job creation. House Bill 950 duplicates federal law, which already allows employees who feel they have been discriminated against through compensation to file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.At that time, Progress Texas provided a detailed refutation of the governor's statement: Perry Wrong to Say Texas’ Equal Pay Act Duplicates Federal Law.
Beyond that, though, the Dallas Morning News quoted state senators Wendy Davis and Kirk Watson, who were in the midst of fighting the draconian anti-choice bills that the Republicans were trying to ram through the 1st Special Session of the TX Legislature:
[Davis] and Watson linked the veto of [state Rep. Senfronia] Thompson’s bill [HB 950] to Perry’s decision to add bills to restrict abortion to the agenda of the current special session.
“It adds insult to injury,” Davis said of the veto and the rush to pass anti-abortion bills.
Watson spoke of “a political war” and said that in that struggle, “women are … at best collateral damage.”
Why Boycott Macy's and Kroger?
Earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle published information gleaned from their open records request, and the list of retailers requesting that HB 950 be vetoed was a surprise to almost everyone, including the bill's sponsors:
Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have let victims of wage discrimination sue in state court after receiving letters against the measure from the Texas Retailers Association and five of its members, mostly grocery stores, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.Macy's, Kroger Food Stores, Gerland Corp., Brookshire Grocery Company, and Market Basket are the five TRA members that chose NOT to address any concerns regarding HB 950 with either Rep. Thompson or Sen. Davis while this bill was making its way through the Texas legislature, but to bypass them and the legislative process in favor of writing directly to Gov. Perry to request a veto. In so doing, these anti-woman businesses apparently hoped to keep their opposition to equal pay for equal work private, but thanks to the Houston Chronicle, we now know what they did.
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.
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.
Every self-respecting Texas woman as well as any Texas man who respects us should boycott these anti-woman retailers effective immediately. And sign Progress Texas' petition telling Macy's & Kroger you are boycotting until they support equal pay!
If you are an ally from another state, please let Macy's and Kroger know that you stand with Texas women: Sign the Petition and Boycott Macy's & Kroger Until They Support Equal Pay!
Let's also tell these retailers what we think about their sneaking behind women's backs to get Texas' fair pay legislation vetoed. Please remember, though, that you're dealing with employees who had no knowledge of this and will probably benefit from being alerted to their employers' concern that they would be sued in Texas courts for not paying women fairly.
With the exception of Macy's, all of these businesses are grocery retailers. Here is their contact information (please draw any errors to my attention):
Macy's customer service: 1 (800) 289-6229
Find the number to call your local Macy's store here.
Kroger Food Stores has stores in 31 states.
Kroger Customer Service Center hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to midnight EST
Find the number to call your local Kroger Food Store here.
The Kroger Co.
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-1100
Brookshire Grocery Company has stores in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and is the parent company for the following grocery chains:
Contact info for Brookshire Grocery Company: Call 1 (888) 937-3776 or (903) 534-3000
Email: listen AT brookshires.com
Brookshire Grocery Company
P.O. Box 1411
Tyler, Texas 75710-1411
Contact their headquarters here.
PS Still thinking you're too busy to call or to write? Here's one more detail from the Houston Chronicle's informative article:
Gary Huddleston, Kroger's director of consumer affairs, said he relied on the retailers association for his information on the bill. "I regret that Representative Thompson is upset and I am sure Kroger, along with the Texas Retailers Association, would like to discuss the issue with her," he said.See, it's all good—Kroger and the TRA are going to mansplain this to Ms T ... because she's so upset after they chose not to discuss this with her when, you know, it might have actually made a difference. Isn't that sweet?