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Petitioning Tennessee State Senate

Tennessee State Senate: Let local governments decide about fair wages

Workers across Tennessee need your support in stopping an attempt by the legislature to repeal fair wage laws that have been passed in communities across the state.

The Tennessee House of Representatives just passed House Bill 501 which overturns living wage laws passed in Memphis and Shelby County years ago. Memphis, Shelby County, and Davidson County have also passed fair wage laws for local government construction contracts. House Bill 501 also bans any local governments in Tennessee from passing laws to prevent and punish wage theft (when workers are paid less than minimum wage or overtime, for example.) Right now, the Memphis City Council is considering just such a local wage theft law.

The Tennessee State Senate will now consider Senate Bill 35, the companion bill to House Bill 501.

If Senate Bill 35 is passed, some workers covered by current fair wage laws could see their pay cut by as much as 43%.

Please stand with workers across the state and call on the Tennessee Senate to protect the rights of city and county governments to make the decisions that are best for their citizens and keep the over-reaching arm of the state government out of our local affairs.

Letter to
Tennessee State Senate
I urge you to vote no on Senate Bill 35 when it's considered on the Floor of the Tennessee State Senate.

State government should not be in the business of interfering in local government affairs. At least 5 local fair wage laws would be overturned by SB 35/HB501. All of these laws were passed by local governments out of a desire to make sure they were contracting with businesses that behave responsibly towards their employees.

An amendment to the bill would also block local governments from passing laws to assist workers in recovering their stolen wages. The Memphis City Council is preparing to vote on just such a local ordinance, and should be free to make its own decision about whether to pass a local law.

If these local living wage laws were causing serious problems for businesses, they would have been repealed by now by the bodies that actually enacted them. As for wage theft laws that are still to be considered, local businesses have plenty of opportunities to communicate with local elected officials about this. In fact, businesses have been doing just that, both in support and opposition to the wage theft ordinance.

This bill attempts to solve a problem that does not exist. It represents a major intrusion by the state into local affairs, which I assume you would not support.

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