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Florida Women Boycott Macy's

Texas Gov. Rick Perry last spring vetoed a bill that would have let victims of wage discrimination sue for back pay in state court. That shouldn't have surprised anyone. The numbskulled chief executive has never been known as a friend of working folks.

But when the news later broke that women's clothing retailer Macy's had urged Perry to kill the bill, that touched a nerve. Women's groups in Texas and across the nation were outraged and called for a boycott of the iconic department store.

The National Women's Political Caucus initiated the boycott on August 26, Women's Equality Day. The group's Florida branch joined in September 3, its president, Beth Lerner, writing:

"There are many options for women when deciding where to spend their money. Not only will we stop spending our money with this company, we are going to let them know why we are no longer spending at their business. Increasing their profit margin on the backs of women is not acceptable."

The bill Perry vetoed was a state version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a 2009 federal law that expanded the time frame in which to file wage discrimination lawsuits. The federal law was passed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited the time frame.

The Texas law would have made it possible to file such suits in state courts, which are easier and cheaper to access. Forty-two states have passed similar laws. Women have a particular interest in the measure as they suffer greatly from wage discrimination.

Macy's role in the veto was first reported in early August by the Houston Chronicle, which obtained copies of letters to Perry from business groups urging him to strike down the law.

Responding by email to a New Times request for comment on the boycott, Macy's Southeast and South Central regional vice president, Melissa Goff, wrote:

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% 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.

Macy's has a major presence in Florida. Its first store outside the New York metropolitan area opened in 1983 at Aventura Mall. Currently it has seven stores in Miami-Dade, eight in Broward, and six in Palm Beach County. Total annual sales exceed $27 billion.

"We don't expect to have a major impact" on Macy's bottom line, Women's Caucus Florida President Lerner told New Times . "This is a way to make people aware of the issue of wage discrimination, whether they stop shopping or not."

Lerner wouldn't rule out stronger action by her group, including picketing of Macy's stores. The group's board meets Thursday.

For more information on the Florida caucus and the boycott, contact Lerner at (954) 372-6290 or president@nwpcfl.com. Facebook page here.

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

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