UltraViolet, the activist organization with 450,000 members that severed Reebok’s sponsorship of rapper Rick Ross, is taking on a big retailer: Macy’s.
The organization against sexism set up an online “equal pay for equal work” petition Thursday afternoon demanding that Macy’s Inc. “pledge not to block any future equal pay legislation in Congress or state legislatures.”
The petition was created after Texas 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, including Macy’s. The bill passed the Texas legislature with strong bipartisan support, but it was vetoed in July at Macy’s request, said Nita Chaudhary, cofounder of UltraViolet.
“I’m not sure if Macy’s is in the business of stopping legislation, but I’m sure they’re in the business of lobbying legislation,” said Chaudhary. “We’ve had no response from Macy’s since the [Texas] bill was vetoed, so we are increasing the volume to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Macy’s is a national brand and it is primarily targeting women who control more than 70 percent of household purchases. Macy’s is in the midst of targeting moms with back-to-school marketing campaigns and sales, and Macy’s should be supporting, not blocking, equal pay, especially if they want to woo women as a customer.”
The retailer issued this statement: “Macy’s absolutely supports equal pay for equal work among men and women. This has been a fundamental principle in our company for many years. Keep in mind that 73 percent of management-level executives at Macy’s Inc. are women, and we have been widely recognized for our support of women at all levels of the organization and in the communities where we operate. We believe that existing federal and Texas state laws provide strong remedies for the resolution of any claims of discrimination.”
UltraViolet’s petition against Macy’s grew to 26,782 signatures the first two hours — 3 to 5 p.m. — it went online.
In April, Reebok International Ltd. dropped Ross as a spokesman after the organization collected 100,000 signatures demanding the rapper be let go because of date-rape lyrics in a song titled “U.O.E.N.O.”