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One Rouge Community Check -In - Week 145




In 2021, Baton Rouge was dubbed the "least equitable" city in the country for the gender pay gap since there's a difference of 48.5% between the salaries of men and women. This is an important designation since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963. The pay gap has widened over the years and current forecasts don’t have women receiving equal pay until 2059. December 2021, the first woman Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome established an Equal Pay Commission with one of its goals being “to establish the City of Baton Rouge as a Model City with regard to pay equity”. It is clear that “shorted pay can prevent women and families from putting food on the table, securing safe housing, and accessing critical medical care and education--impacts that can perpetuate cycles of poverty across generations.” For these and many other reasons, it is imperative that women be paid equally to their male counterparts. Join us Friday, March 3 when we hear about equal pay, why it is important, and whether there is a path forward to shorten the divide from our esteemed speakers:

  • Melissa Flournoy - Co-founder 10,000 Women Louisiana

  • Rep. Kyle Green, Jr. - State Representative District 83

  • Amey Crousillac - Senior Vice President, Resource Development, Capital Area United Way

  • Kaitlyn Joshua - Chair, EBR City-Parish Equal Pay Commission

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!


 

Notes

Melissa Flournoy: I've been involved in politics for 30 years. I got elected to the legislature in 1991, the same year that Sharon Western Broom got elected and Raymond Jetson was in the legislature at the time. So I think I'm part of the way back machine. And so what I wanna say is that, We've been having the conversation for an awfully long time around equal pay minimum wage discrimination in the workplace. There have been lots of different groups over the years the legislative agenda for women that Julie Schwam Harris created. That was a great coalition of women's groups. The A U W, the League of Women Voters Charmaine Cas in the United Way. It wasn't really till John Bell Edwards got serious about this when he got elected that we did the first really big modern equal pay summit after his election. But we haven't had much progress because we haven't made much progress in the legislature. And so if folks are interested in the details and the legislation that's been filed over the past I can send that pepper if y'all do that kind of follow up with data. But I didn't do any slides today. Barbara Carpenter, who's one of our leaders here locally as the chair of the Labor Committee the Labor Committee pretty much is stacked by business. The nemesis on equal pay has always been lobby and N F I B, and I'm always aggravated when Dawn Sterns comes to testify against equal pay. So Lobby and N F I B tried out some of their women leaders to basically prove to the legislature that not all women support equal pay. I do think there may be. An equal pay bill. I don't think it's been filed yet. Representative Green may be doing that, so that would be good to know. I know that the Louisiana Budget project has been working on a number of issues and so there may be more interest this year around paid family medical leave. And there's been a coalition working on that. And and I will say that I think that equal pay and not raising the minimum wage is the shame of Louisiana. And it's something that I think we need to try and make an issue in the upcoming legislative races and governor's race about the state of working Louisiana. Louisiana Budget project just came out with another, I talked to Stacy yesterday, another report on the state of working Louisiana. The problem is we have too many people, women and men working at. Wages that are not sustainable for families. And I'm hoping that One Rouge can help mobilize legislators in the Baton Rouge area and other advocates to work with the Power Coalition, the legislative agenda. I'm board chair of Louisiana Progress, and then we just spun out a new group called 10,000 Women Louisiana, because I think we've gotta get. Women organized to speak on their own behalf. I think sometimes when you have coalitions of organizations, most of them are c3. Everybody's worried about their donors or the foundations or get skittish and don't wanna say what needs to be said. And so 10,000 women is an effort to try and connect young women, old women. I told somebody I was the field marshal of the Menopause Militia. But we've really gotta connect women across the state, across the economic spectrum. We've gotta young women, old women, white women, Hispanic women we've gotta represent all the people of Louisiana. There's a real bias in our legislature to keep people down. We have a system that supports poverty and services, poverty. We do not have a system to solve poverty and equal pay. And not paying women. What they're worth is really part of a much bigger narrative about how Louisiana has operated as a plantation economy for generations or hundreds of years literally. And so there are groups that are coming together to focus on minimum wage, equal pay, family, economic security. There's lots of opportunity for coalition building. The state did pass equal pay in 2016. That was one of the good things that governor Edwards was able to do to re-e nsure equal pay in state government and with state contractors. But we still have a long way to go so I could give a long presentation, but that's the summary, which is dammit it is time to raise some hell around raising the minimum wage and paying people what they're worth. We've got a system that conspires to keep people poor and we need to break that system. So thanks for the opportunity to talk with y'all this morning. I really appreciate it.

Kyle Green: I'm State Representative Kyle Green. I represent District 83, which is on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish. For those who don't know it, it's basically the west side of the Har Canal, encompassing parts of Marrero, all of Avondale, Westwego, bridge City, and Wagman. I was elected in October of 2019, sworn in January of 2020. In my first term, I'm currently my first term and I currently sit on the committees of insurance commerce and municipal, cultural and parochial affairs. I am an attorney by trades primarily fights and personal injury. And so when I'm not doing that, I'm advocating for those who typically don't have any voice in our society. And I am a father of four, particularly two young daughters. And so the. The issue of pay equity is near and dear to my heart because it affects me close to home. And so I brought forth a bill last year that would basically end pay discrimination in the state of Louisiana. I brought the bill in 2020, but because of Covid wasn't able to push it through to vote in, in committee. Although the likelihood of the success of the bill was very dim, I thought that there's some fight that's just worth fighting for because that, it's just that important, especially in Louisiana where we rank either last or dead Last in terms of pay equity. But in terms of in the state of Louisiana, women across the board make around 67 cents on the dollar to what a amend makes, and it's even less for a women of color. And that just didn't sit well with me. And so I figured I'd try to take a proactive approach and utilize my relationships across the aisle to try to appeal to basically this male dominate legislature to show, explain to them, Hey, look, this is your spouse, this is your daughter, this is your granddaughters, your niece these are your friends that this is affecting. But unfortunately a lot of 'em understand it. But the business community still has a lot of influence in the legislature. And that measure was all. In the Labor Committee, which is known this past Termist committee of death. Cause nothing ever gets out of that committee. So that's where we are. I'm hopeful that with this next election whoever's running for governor if they want to court they'll have to moderate themselves and maybe we could use this as an issue to barge for I was surprised when I heard that one of the candidates running for governor, who I've worked with the last 40 years, it, she's very conservative, but she even put on table minimum wage is something that we could take a look at. We'll see what happens going forward. But I don't think that this particular issue. And the issue of minimum wage is one, we should just lay down because the votes aren't there. We need to force them to vote year after year. And explain to the people why this is something that Louisiana should continue. Thank you,

Amey Crousillac: I'm with Capital Area United Way. And so often people think of United Way and they only think about raising dollars. But there's so many things that we're doing in the areas of education, income, health, and basic needs. But one of those is income stability. We wanna make sure that people in our area have increased employment opportunities. We wanna make sure that they have financial education to have all the things they know that are going on in the community and how to advance their income to take care of some of these gaps that we're talking about. We have a group called Women United. Women United is a group of women in our community that give advocate and volunteer, and they're all about empowerment. So this year, in conjunction with National Women's History Month, we are putting on a women empowerment. Conference on Tuesday, March the eighth. I'll put it in the chat for people in our Alice population and below. ALICE stands for asset Limited Income Constraint Employee. Those are the people that we most commonly refer to as the working poor. Those are the people that are working hard every single day to advance their family opportunities. To do good in the community, do things, but they're just not making enough because we all know, and it's been said here, minimum wage does not cover the necessities that are needed here in life to succeed. So what can we do to help them? So we got together with our women Affinity group. He says, what would be the best way to tackle this? So we came up this year with women empowering women. I will put in the chat the link if you want to register. We have a few spots left, but we're gonna be meeting at the Louisiana Resource Center for educators on the eighth, from eight to three to address women and how to empowerment power them in the employment realm. We're gonna hear from speakers in the areas of education, income, health, basic needs, our four pillars about what they need to do to succeed. We'll hear like Carol Patan. We'll talk about how not eating healthy leads to mental stress. How being worried about from day to day, how that leads to everything correlates back. We find from a lot of people is that income stability, how am I gonna provide for my family? So there are a lot of other ways that we can do that. After that, we are gonna have breakout sessions where we're gonna have people from SHRM that are gonna be talking to people of how to do interviews virtually and in person. Most people don't know how to do in person anymore if they've only done virtual. Most people don't know how to vir do virtual. They're new to the job arena. So we're gonna be teaching about that, how to write a resume, how to highlight and show your skills in the way that correlate to that job that you're looking to get or that promotion that you're hoping to get. After all that's over, we have the breakout rooms. We'll go back in and have lunch, and Juan Hart is going to do a style show. So now you're gonna have lunch in the style show about how to dress professionally in the workplace, how to dress for the job that you want, and so she'll go through a style show on that. After that, we're gonna have, Mimi Singer is gonna be talking a little bit more about what's going on in the employment area here in Louisiana and the resources along talking about equal pay. But then we're go back in our breakup rooms again. So if you went to one, you'll now go to two and you go everything. And then we're going to end it with the Rolling Kitchen from the Pennington Biomedical Center are going to come in and show women how to cook things with fresh produce. With fruits and vegetables, they'll leave with all the ingredients that they need for that meal to go home and fix for that appetizer. Or it might be a lunch. We don't know what it's gonna be yet. And then when all of our ladies leave, they will be leaving with gift cards to local grocery stores. They'll be leaving with vouchers for top box produce and other things that our sponsors or doing. And one last thing is that women in power and women are also doing our nominations right now, which I'll put in the link for you to nominate women in our community that are doing stellar work in those areas. And those nominations are coming into a close. And that event will be May 9th.

Kaitlyn Joshua: I'm organized with the Power Coalition and serve as the chair of the Equal Pay Commission for the city of Baton Rouge. Obviously this issue means a lot to me for no unique reasons. I've worked at jobs at various law firms where my white female counterparts are making probably double what I was making and it wasn't until I worked at the Power Coalition, a women of color led organization that I was actually paid what I was worth and it doesn't have to be like that. And the Pay Equity Commission wrapped up its first 10 months of work in November of 2022. We produced a report based on that information December, and I'm gonna share some of that work with you all. I'm not gonna go through it all cause it's pretty lengthy, but I'll definitely drop it in the chat, Casey so folks can look at. And of course we'll make all this information available on the mayor's website or br la.gov. I'll go ahead and start here. So to be quite honest, y'all, Louisiana had extremely limited research from the local to the late state level on pay equities and equities rather. Either we had a great deal of research dating back a few years or just research on the local level of the city of Baton Rouge, but didn't give us gender. And like we needed gender and we needed race to be able to understand who was making what. And so what we had to really focus on in this first 10 months of work from January, 2022 to October 22 was finding so. We were able to compare cities and states with similar demographic makeup to identify some of the goals that we wanna work towards as a commission and things we, and things that we can set ourselves as deliverables. We also looked at trends and themes, so the overarching trends and themes specifically for women of color, because that was the lens we wanted to work from. And I see Morgan's on the call, so she's on our commission. Shout out to you for all this hard work. And so we go through all the backgrounds that are are employed in the state of Louisiana. What we did know, or what we did come to find out, is that gender pay inequities in Baton Rouge is among the highest in the nation. The difference between men's and women's salaries is roughly 48% according to the analysis of the US census data by United Way. The median annual salary is about 40,000 4 82 for women. While the medium paid for men is about 60,000 with white men earning about 70,000 of a median salary, while black men earn about 42. And so the commission starts back up again in June and we will go the full 12 months. But what we know we wanna do, like right off the bat, is conduct more sense of research on the local level, as I said, around race and gender, cuz that was really important to. We know in terms of next steps, excuse me, y'all just getting over a cold. We know in terms of next steps when identify policies that will eliminate or mitigate discrimination in the workplace that can PR promote pay equity outside of existing legislation, which we don't have a ton, as we already said on this call, identify current policies that aid and lower gender pay, utilizing cities with similar, comparable demographics and economies. We wanna establish workplace and government policies, especially in that public sector area that ensures equitable access to job training programs, skill building courses, leadership opportunities, and professional development, which is definitely an area for improvement. Currently, we wanna implement mentorship programs in the workplace, particularly for women of color. Kind Amy described, a lot of times folks of color, not generalizing us, but just with some of the research that we learned with the report, is that sometimes women just don't know what to ask for. They don't know how to ask for it, right? And so established policies that encourage inclusivity and safe zones for reporting up the chain of command in the workplace, which isn't happening currently at the local level. Established policies that ensure transparent promotion tracks for all employees, especially minorities. And we would love to increase incentives for employers within the city parish government that can offer paid leave, especially contract jobs, which include maternity leave for women and then of course maternity leave for fathers and provide education regarding labor. Again, we reconvene in June for another year. We're gonna do a full 12 months this time cuz we knew 10 was just not enough. And Mayor Broom also stated she would like to endorse a piece of legislation coming from the Capitol City seminar what representative Kyle Green spoke about. And then of course we've spoken with Regina Barrow as well. And so I'll stop there cause I know we have a ton of questions, but that's just what we're up to and some of the things that we're looking to do in the next year.

Pepper Roussel: What's the counterargument against equal pay and living wages that keeps any headway from successfully moving forward?

Melissa Flournoy: Let the market decide capitalism is paying business, snows bath and pre enterprise is God. That's the. And let the market decide is the mantra of lobby. And we don't care if people are poor and can't feed their children and can't buy clothes and can't live in safe housing. We don't even think we need a minimum wage. Let the market decide. That's the argument. There's no sense of moral obligation or common good or living wage poverty feeds the capitalist system. You said I could be real, so I'm just telling you what I see and frankly, the powers that be in Louisiana don't care that we've got. 40% of our African American kids living in poverty, they don't care that we've got some schools with as high as 95 or even a hundred percent kids on free lunch. They don't care that we aren't investing in sustainable, affordable housing. Keeping a low wage workforce serves the system of tourism. And we've gotta we've gotta raise up some moral outrage because the, nobody cares about the numbers or the data. And that's my big frustration.

Kyle Green: No, Melissa, hit it on the head. Hit the nail on the head, everything she said. And from one of the things that. I was shocked to see during Covid was when people stayed home, there was a worker shortage and people started to realize, you know what? I'm not going to go to work, back to work. Making $8 an hour, making 7 25 an hour, making $9 an hour, I'm gonna stay home. And because that worker shortage, people start demanding more in their pay. And so one thing that I learned when I brought my bill, or the minimum wage which is tied to equal pay, because you can make the same amount as a man, but if your wages bill low, you're not bringing home a significant amount of money to provide for yourself or your family. What it didn't make any sense was they said we don't need a minimum wage because the wages have already increased, well above 7 25 an hour. Which would beg the argument that if the floor of the salary that you're giving across by and large is over 7 25 an hour how does it hurt businesses to increase give a reasonable increase? And they couldn't answer that. But it's that, or it's gonna cost prices to go up because what's gonna happen is businesses will take the increase that they have to pay their workers and give it off to the consumer so it'll take the economy. But I remember when the licensing wage was increased in July of 2007, the economy did just fine. So that argument goes out of the. Fun and festive.

Pepper Roussel: When we hear about arguments that the market will bear on the other end of that, we've got discussions around women don't know how to negotiate for pay, right? So that's in that link that I left you, Jen. But here's the thing. If I'm applying for a job and the job pays $10 an hour, why would I think that there was somebody that I'm working right next to who's making 16 or 17? Because the job pays $10 an hour. So the question in the chat is pay transparency a part of any of the policy conversations? Because reason, reasonably speaking, if we are transparent about what people are making, then I think it's easier to negotiate pay.

Melissa Flournoy: We've tried to pass pay transparency. We've tried to eliminate pay secrecy. Literally what Kyle Green was saying is that we can't get anything out of the Labor Committee. In the last seven years, it's gonna be continue to be hard to get anything out of the Labor Committee, but a, it absolutely makes sense if people know, you know what the pay scale is, that if you start on day one, you can make 10 and the person next door to you may have been there for eight years and has gotten. Raises for longevity. But the problem is that in many of these low wage positions, whoever's getting hired has no power in this equation. We see the fact is that the power dynamic is so wrecked up that folks don't even think it's either take the job or not take the job. And that's why pay secrecy, pay transparency, having payment scales published is really important. We're making progress in the public sector, but the private sector is very resistant. The private sector motive is to pay people as little as possible. And so that's what we have to address.

Pepper Roussel: Do any of our other speakers wanna jump in on that?

Kaitlyn Joshua: I guess the only thing I'll say to that is that came up a lot during our research for the pay equity study that we were trying to carry out for the city. And what we're finding is it just doesn't, no, like any type of like local efforts to be able to obliterate or do away with pay super cheap and out allow for pay transparency. There's just too much, there's too many workplace ramifications for asking your coworker that and like folks are just not doing that. So they would never they, meaning I'll take myself for example, if I worked at a 7 25 job and I knew the young lady made 10, like the employer has every right to let me go because I asked, or I assumed that I knew someone else's pay. So pay secrecy is still very much a thing in Louisiana and very much a fear tactic. I would like to see us bring another bill. I know John Bell Edwards has brought a lot of different avenues for us to be able to talk about pay secrecy and pay transparency in a way that is that incentivizes employers to not be discriminatory. But as of right now, it's still very much a fear tactic in the workplace.

Pepper Roussel: So expanding on that theme when we say that what the market will bear, we. I think understand that workers are indeed a part of the market, but do workers, no matter how long they've been there, a month, a year, 10 years, 20 years, do they have the capacity to influence the market? Or is this something that simply has to happen as a collective in the legislature? Are we voting in order to change the way that things work? Or are we screaming and protesting?

Kyle Green: I take that unfortunately. And just to be very honest the votes aren't there. People who support our position, such as myself and my colleagues on my side of the aisle we're limited in numbers. Out of a body of 105 representative. Like-minded people who support that particular issue. I would say maybe we can count to about 36 to 38 votes. On a bad day, maybe 40, on a good day, you got, you have to have 53 votes to pass anything in the house. Then it has to go over the Senate and the Senate even more skewed in the favor of the other side of the aisle where they control over two thirds of the body. That's the only thing. My, my hope is that something could be done on the national level in the short term, but in the long term we have to organize, we have to mobilize. We have to make sure that when myself, people like me who are upper reelection in October when candidates are running for office and asking for your vote, you ask them for something in return, and you hold them to it for the duration that they're in office. That is I think how we will get there. In the long run of getting to a point where we can pass meaningful policy that will ensure that women are paid the same as their male counterparts and are paid a living wage.

Melissa Flournoy: Representative green this is Melissa Pepper. One of the questions Kyle's Wright, we can't pass anything on about this, but there is a preemption law that I would like to repeal because New Orleans wanted to have a higher minimum wage. Baton Rouge has talked about it. Other metropolitan cities have talked about how to raise the minimum wage, but there's a state law that says local governments can't have their a higher minimum wage. And so there's also, preemption is a, is gonna be an issue around gun regulation in this legislative session. So is there any way, Kyle, for us to mobilize around, let local government decide These issues and trying to repeal the preemption bill because I think New Orleans would've passed the fight for 15 with Step Up and all the groups working in New Orleans, if they legally could. And I actually think the Baton Rouge might do the same.

Kyle Green: That I, if I'm not mistaken, that Bill was actually introduced by then Representative Royce du now Senator Du a couple of years ago. I wanna say it may have been my first term. And you would think that bill would come before the, my Committee. The Committee on Municipal Cultural Parochial Affairs, which basically builds a local government, I hope I'm not speaking a term, but I think there was when the bill is introduced, they referred to committee and the bill was originally referred to municipal committee. But because it dealt with preemption on that particular issue the issue of I think, minimum wage and minimum wage typically goes to labor. My Republican colleagues, I think it was Blake Meer, made a motion from the floor to challenge the the ruling of the speaker and move it to labor to where it would for sure die because labors is completely stacked against us municipal, depending upon who showed up. And there are some moderate Republicans on that committee. We could have built a coalition to get the bill out but that didn't happen. Now, whether it happened again this term I dunno I'm not certain of that, but I think that's what happened, I think in 2020 or 2021.

Kaitlyn Joshua: Representative Calgary, you're absolutely right. I was with StepUp, Louisiana at the time, and that's exactly what happened. It was called Unleash Local Fight for 15, whatever you wanna call it. And essentially we're not planning to bring that campaign back because it's a fiscal year until next year. And so hopefully we'll be able to mobilize more labor units. I think someone puts something in the chat around labor. Labor was very heavy at the table no matter what side of the aisle. We, when trying to repeal preemption and bring about a minimum wage that's higher than 7 25 in the state of Louisiana. So we will be working with them again to bring that campaign back. Thank you, ma'am.

Pepper Roussel: Got another question in the chat. How can we raise as awareness about those who are killing bills or refusing to allow them outta committee in order to get votes on the record?

Kaitlyn Joshua: I think that one's hard, and I'll tell you why. As Representative Cal Green said so eloquently, a lot of times folks that you know that are on his side of the aisle, it's about 36, 37 votes because they are the majority and they're, and you don't wanna believe it, but the constituents in their district are okay with the way that they vote. And so it's very difficult to go back to some of these rural areas and not generalizing rural areas, but just with some of the surveys that we've done around equal pay for women, there are women in these districts that don't believe in equal pay for women. And those are the ones that are the capital. They're also folks that don't believe in raising minimum wage. They feel people should pick themselves up off their bootstraps. A lot of times those come back same way. And so when you look at scorecarding, some of these legislators that do vote this way, their constituents aren't upset. I think the best thing that we can do, and I'm always thinking as an organizer, how can we influence some of the minority organiza organizations and communities that we advocate on behalf of is like letting them know that these folks scorecard these particular folks are the reasons why you haven't been able to get a raise in X amount of years as women of color we're not seeing increase in pay for us. And so I think really strategizing around folks of color to be honest and going back to those communities and letting them know some of the reasons what's really going at, on, at the legislature when we're at work, when we're not looking. I think that is more important than trying to galvanize folks that already have their minds made up that are not gonna change their minds when it comes to equal way for women.

Kyle Green: And looking at it at a bigger picture, last year in 20 20, 20 21, we had the census. Okay. And the census is very important. I think many of our community don't really realize the importance of the census. The census affords us to be counted particularly when the legislatures and governing bodies have to redraw districts because of under population overpopulation. And in being in a legislature, one thing I realized that many of our districts are heavily weighted to either being majority black, extremely majority black or majority white. And in the state, basically, if you're a, if you're an African-American, you're likely to be a Democratic voter. If you're a white voter, You're more likely not to be a Republican voter because we show that in numbers that comes back. I Any Democrat who runs for statewide office is probably gonna get anywhere from 20 to 30. On a good day, John Bell will get 35% of the white vote. On a bad day rock, Obama will get anywhere from 15 to 20% of the white vote. So when you have districts in a legislature, particularly in a house where a white district is 70% white, and you know that district is Republican and the values that the Republican party supports, there's really no incentive for my colleague who represents that particular district to even cross over and vote for that particular issue because they're afraid of the blow back that they're gonna receive when reelection time comes. I think we need to look, pull this thing up by the roots and recalibrate ourselves in making sure that. Short term we use whatever power we have to try to moderate some of these districts and with the candidates and the issues that we care about. But in the long run, making sure that some of these districts are built in a manner that will lend itself to either electing someone who cares about issues or someone who won't be afraid to cross over and support some of the issues that we care about, that they know themselves is a particular issue, but they don't wanna have to deal with the issue for reelection cause they're afraid of the blow back.

Melissa Flournoy: I think people vote against their own self-interest and that's what's so frustrating to me. My friend Lf Alfreda Tillman investor always says, we're not a red state. We're a non-voting state. And so the other part of this is getting people to register to vote and to actually turn out to vote. We're gonna have to be dealing with these gerrymandered terrible districts and a Republican dominated legislature for the next decade. We've gotta be prepared to fight back against the possibility of having Jeff Landry as our governor. And frankly, we've gotta change the narrative. We've gotta really have a. Family first agenda that can reach out to rural, white poor people who are also being poorly paid as well as African Americans. In the city. There's a coalition out here to be built of the L G B T community, the union community, the African American community white liberals and as well as progressives and then frankly some SANE Republicans. And so we have to talk about these issues from the perspective of how can people care for their families, how can they be self-sufficient? We wanna encourage work and we wanna encourage self-sufficiency and we gotta flip the narrative and we've gotta be much more aggressive in our messaging, in my opinion. And part of this is that I'm not ready to give up on Louisiana, but we are gonna have to change the dialogue cuz clearly what we've been doing ain't getting it done. and and we've gotta talk about we've gotta find a way to talk about raising the minimum wage in the best interest of business. I hate to say that sentence, but we've gotta talk about workforce development. We've gotta talk about sustainable families, and then we also have to talk about safe neighborhoods and communities. One of the reasons that we have so many unsafe neighborhoods, if you've got desperately poor people trying to figure out a way to put food on the table and we're not doing nearly enough to change the conversation it shouldn't be about guns. It should be about minimum wage and paying people more, that they can be safe in their own communities and neighborhoods. And until we weave it all together we're not gonna make progress on any of it. And know, that's my soapbox is that we've got to integrate the ideas around safe neighborhoods, safe families, safe communities, safe schools. And it all starts with paying people what there were, because the Republican narrative against poor people, against black people, against people on welfare, again, this whole makers and takers bullshit makes my brain explode. And we've really just gotta be much more sophisticated in coming together. Yeah, Ava as poor white people don't wanna be associated with black people. That's why we've gotta make it, we've gotta change the dialogue. I dunno how to do it. But I'm just really happy to be part of this conversation. Thank you.

Pepper Roussel: Anti-blackness is real, y'all. It is real. It is deep, and I will echo something that my dear friend Morgan put in the chat that we romanticize not only poverty, but also this plantation aesthetic that because of it we end up with folks believing, genuinely believing and wanting to believe that black people in general, black women in particular, don't deserve more to than being paid. And so my question to my panel is, can we have a discussion around equal pay without addressing the elephant in the room, which in my opinion is race.

Kyle Green: You, you cannot and you should not. But the issue is trying to people who don't come from that particular community themselves, person's from their perspective, their worldview, while standing in their shoes, it's really hard. Gonna be very hard for a white male to see the perspective of a woman of color. You have to put yourself in that person's shoes and empathize. And one thing that I think is lacking is that ability to empathize with other people to see how their world views affected. Based on the color of their skin, their ethnic background it's going to be very tough. Cause they, some of 'em just don't get it I pride myself on trying to have good relationship with my college across the aisle from all different sectors and talking to them, getting to know them so that they can see me not as a Democrat or an African American, but a person who has, who the father who I'm educated just like them in that, Hey, look, we all want the same thing at the end of the day. We just have differences of opinions as to how to get there. And so when you humanized the, that particular issue, then I think they can start coming around. One example of that was during Covid, when Covid first took off. In the state of Louisiana, my district 83 and representatively district 87, which is right across the mine. If you looked in the map where all the hot spots were, where the red was, that was my district and representatively district. And we were begging and pleading, Hey, look, we gotta do something about this. We fix this. I have constituents who are dying at a rapid rates, and many of my colleagues were saying, Hey, look this is the farcet.

It's fake. They didn't take it seriously. They didn't start taking it seriously until much later when their district started getting hit and their friends and family members started dying because of co That's when they started wearing the mask. And it would quietly say, Kyle, I'm scared because my father, my mother, my uncle, my brother are now seriously hospitalized with this virus. We can go back on, look at the opioid Issue. Crack cocaine was being proliferated in black communities, minority communities. For a long time it wasn't an issue. Now you have suburban kids Caucasian suburban kids dying of fentanyl and other opioids at a rapid rate. Now it's an issue. So we have to show them how this affects you on a personal level. Then they'll be able to take that and hopefully change their mind. But it won't happen until they have the either life experience or gain necessary empathy to empathize with another person in our community.

Kaitlyn Joshua: So there's a a mention in the chat that we continue, most people continue to vote against their own self-interest.

Pepper Roussel: Is this cognitive dissonance too much to overcome?

Kyle Green: I don't think it's too much to overcome. Since I've been in legislature, I came in optimistic. I will be lying to you if I tell you I'm not a slightly bit more pessimistic of how things happen. And I'm just being completely honest with you. Assuming the worst occurs that Jeff, number one, Jeff lands our governor, the state in 25 will roll. The 0.45 of the sales tax will roll off if we don't do anything about that issue, which would mean that it would be an 800 million hit to the state budget if that occurs. I don't believe that there are 70 votes to reauthorize that. Cause you have a lot of Republicans, you're not gonna vote for it. I'm not gonna vote for it because it's a, the sales tax is aggressive tax and it disproportionately hurts four people. Particularly in my district. I'm not voting for it. But the person who's in the governor's mansion, and if it's Jeff Landry or any of his other Republican colleagues, they're going to have to spread around a lot of pain, hurt around a lot of people and is going to affect a lot of their constituents. In Louisiana whether it's cut to higher ed or healthcare education there're gonna be a lot of kicking and screaming, and I hate to say this, but maybe if that were to happen, those who are most affected by those policies will start to see the correlation between those policies and who they vote for.

Melissa Flournoy: Okay. Can I jump in? We lived through Bobby JIndal. Some of y'all are young and hadn't been doing this all that long. Some of y'all understand this sentence. Bobby jal tried to cut his way to prosperity. We devastated the public health system. We underfunded higher ed. We privatized. The public school system, we reinvested in everything under the eight years of Bobby Jindal. My fear is that Jeff Landry is not gonna be satisfied with just doing that. He's gonna he's a white nationalist with a racist agenda against the L G B T community, against poor people, against black people. Jeff Landry is our DeSantis, and until we get people to focus with a level of intensity on what's going on in Louisiana I am fearful about this fall election. And I really think the energy needs to be around voter registration, getting out the vote, framing the narrative. If Sean Wilson runs for governor, he will be really the first Potential governor who's African American and frankly I think he's a moderate and it'll be, this could be really interesting. That's all I'm gonna say. But we can't give up. We can't give in and we can't wait. That's my message. We can't wait. Wow. Okay.

Pepper Roussel: So it's 9 25 and I'm still giddy. Casey, do you wanna jump in and say anything here?

Kyle Green: No

Pepper Roussel: All right, so looking over here in the chat, and there are, there's some great discussion over here and I wanna make sure before y'all have to jump off and do other things that you put, whatever contact information that that you have that you want to share with folks, whatever initiatives it is or events. Thank you, Amy, for doing that, that you've got coming up. If there's anything particularly representative Green that you are gonna be introducing in this particular legislative session that you might wanna have us supporting please let us know what that is going to be and bringing this more narrowly into Baton Rouge. What can be done in order to improve conditions for women in particular around equal pay. That can be done on a account, on a, excuse me a local level or is it all a state thing? could we have, could we encourage private owners of businesses to pay women more, or do we have to, or is it just a matter of compelling them to do that because they just will not ever. And I wanna say that's on the heels of something that Reverend Anderson had put, or maybe it was cherita, which one of y'all told me that the, that they legally just can't pay you any less. So that's what they're doing.

Kaitlyn Joshua: But to answer your question Pepper, I think, just from the research we've done on the city level if Mayor Broom's administration did want to, and I think she just gave a raise to certain individuals within her administration about three, four months ago was very fairly recent. But anyways, all that to say, like if she wanted to touch like public sector jobs and like contract jobs, she certainly can. Preemption does not take away that ability for any localities to be able to work within their public sector jobs or government jobs. And so that is one way to get things started and that is one way to set presidents that we should be as a state moving forward in the private sector as well. And so I would look to maybe organizing some of these local municipalities to be able to do that, if anything, while we're waiting for some federal legislation or state legislation to go through.

Pepper Roussel: Lovely. Thank y'all so much. Like I said, we don't have any questions in the chat. We do have some folks who are rabble rousing. I love y'all so much for that. And I love the idea of organizing. So whether it is that we are putting together a coalition that shows up every other week at the capitol, happy to bring cookies and donuts give you the sugar rush to make it from office to office, we absolutely can do those things.

Kyle Green: Just thank you for having me. It was an in I love always a dialogue about planning what we do. It's very encouraging that people pay a. And I look forward please invite me back. I'll try to come back if I can.

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