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NEW YORK — It may have been a washout due to heavy rain, but more than 20 protesters from the antisexism organization UltraViolet picketed Macy’s Herald Square Wednesday with a petition of 90,000 signatures demanding that Macy’s “stop lobbying against equal pay for women.”
Holding signs saying “Macy’s: Stop Blocking Equal Pay,” other activist organizations joined in, including the National Organization for Women and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. By noon, UltraViolet — which severed Reebok’s sponsorship of rapper Rick Ross — had already placed more than 2,000 phone calls to Macy’s customer feedback line.
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.
Shaunna Thomas, cofounder of the 450,000-member UltraViolet, said, “Macy’s only acknowledgement of the petition and backlash so far was to imply the Texas equal-pay law they lobbied against was ‘unnecessary.’”
A Macy’s spokeswoman said Wednesday it stands by its statement in a WWD story on Aug. 15: “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.”
On Wednesday, Thomas said, “It is time for Macy’s to commit to stop blocking the road to equality. We urge Macy’s leadership to renounce their efforts to block equal pay, apologize and publicly commit to never blocking such legislation again. For a company that spends millions of dollars marketing to women, their work undermining our pocketbooks has consequences.”
She further noted that the protest was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” which was celebrated in the nation’s capital Wednesday.
“Fifty years after Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, we are still fighting for economic equality, and a part of that is equal pay for equal work for all people,” said Thomas. “For women, and especially women of color, that is still not the norm in America. Women are earning only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, African-American women specifically only make 64 cents to the dollar, and Latina women make only an appalling 55 cents to the dollar men make. Companies like Macy’s are hurting our progress towards addressing these gaps that hurt women across America every day.”
Macy’s security would not let protestors enter the flagship’s front entrance to deliver the petition. A few were admitted into a side entrance on East 34th Street, where ROC codirector Fekkak Mamdouh tried to enter and was escorted out the door by a New York City policeman.