The Democrat Party has long taken advantage of voters by twisting the facts in favor of smooth sound bites. Last Wednesday is a case on point.
I chair the Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee in the House – Rep. John Ray Clemmons brought HB1947, the Tennessee Pay Equality Act for a hearing. This bill has been filed every year since I can remember. Truthfully it dies each time – even when the Democrats were in the majority.
This year Rep. Clemmons arranged for community organizers to be in the back of the room – they took photos and video, and orchestrated a near riot outside of the hearing room after the bill failed. The capitol police asked me to leave through the back door of the hearing room it was so disruptive. And although I have been blocked from seeing posts, I have been sent screen shots of posts on social media by these activists which are spreading the worst sort of disinformation.
What sort of disinformation? That this was an equal pay bill which would bring justice to all working women in Tennessee!
Federal equal pay law protects women and the penalties in law are rather severe – much more severe than any of the provisions in this bill.
Here is the truth - this bill does not apply to women who are employed by private employers in Tennessee. It does not apply to women who consult for private or government employers. It does not apply to women in government civil service jobs, nor to women employed in agricultural work.
Rep. Clemmons has not been honest – he has not made clear the definition of employee in this bill to all of the women he and his community organizers have stirred up. The bill states that:
“Employee”: Means any individual employed by any employer within this state; and does not include any individual who is entitled to the equal pay provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
The definition of employee cuts out the overwhelming and vast majority of women in Tennessee because the FLSA applies to almost every working person in the United States, foreign embassies and U.S. territories.
So if almost no one is covered by Rep. Clemmons’ legislation to whom does the bill apply? It only applies to state and local non-civil service employees; translation - elected officials and political appointees.
As I said, this bill has run for years – Rep. Clemmons should know to whom this bill applies, and he should not deceive the women of our state into attacking the woman chairman of the committee while making himself into some sort of hero.
So, even if it does only apply to these few workers, just how are these few workers protected? They are protected by the current law because most aspects of the bill mirror the current law.
So what are the differences? The bill goes further than the current law by encouraging workers to share their wages with each other. It does this by continually emphasizing that it is unlawful for employers to forbid employees to share their pay rate. Neither the state nor local governments have a policy that orders employees not to share their pay rate because that would limit free speech – a violation of the first amendment. The bill also has the Commissioner of Labor create a booklet in order to publish this encouragement for the employees for which the law would apply.
The state of Tennessee is a large employer with offices all over the state – the bill removes the provision in the current law that states the law applies only to employees in the same establishment. Budgets and pots of money are different for different programs - so is it not reasonable to expect that political appointees might make different money in different state offices and areas of state government?
Further, the bill allows for class action status – that would really be exciting for Rep. Clemmons – after all he is an attorney.
In committee Rep. Clemmons expressed that the women of Tennessee need this law because the federal law isn’t adequate – if it isn’t adequate why would this law not apply to all working women in Tennessee? Clemmons cited statistics that have been disproved by the Obama Administration’s DOL study. Some try to disparage the study but it says what it says. In committee I used my own life as an example to evidence the study –– Rep. Clemmons has had the community organizers attempt to tear down my life choices for the past two days on social media as if my choices are not just as valid as the life choices other women have made.
It is an election year so I guess that explains why Rep. Clemmons is deceiving Tennessee working women by telling them that this bill would offer all of them some new protection. I have no idea why he has done what he has done – he is an attorney so he should understand to whom his bill applies.