Jackson, Miss. (WJTV) — Chants echoed up and down Jackson streets Wednesday morning as dozens of people marched toward the State Capitol.
The marchers were advocating for environmental protections and labor unions but the hot topics seemed to be education funding and equal pay.
“An equal pay bill is proposed every year and every year it gets killed,” says pay equity advocate Vicki Slater. “So we’re here to stand up and say next year we want a clean equal pay bill that will protect all Mississippians against gender discrimination.”
Advocates for pay equity openly mourned as some women dressed in black. A bill that would have given protections to men and women died Tuesday. There are federal protections, but Mississippi is one of two states without its own pay equity law.
Slater explains why she thinks Mississippi should enact a law, “It’s less expensive to bring an action in state court than it is in federal court and if the federal government ever repeals or attacks equal pay then Mississippi will stand strong for equal pay.”
Education was another talked about issue. Teachers from other states marched on behalf of Mississippi educators who may not be able to march for themselves.
“No one is happy about House Bill 957,” says Akemi Stout, President of the Jackson Federation of Teachers. “House Bill 957 has a lot of loopholes in it and particularly when it comes to resources, to adequately funding the education system we have in Mississippi. There is no such thing as you just need a formula.”
State Senators moved a rewrite of Mississippi’s school funding formula out of committee Tuesday. However, changes to House Bill 957 means the plan must return to the House for approval or a conference will be held.
Stout says, “They should allow teachers to come in. They should allow the people that are in the field, doing the work, to come in and change the bill.”