Anti-poverty group ranks Texas one of the worst states for working women, regardless of abortion law

click to enlarge Workers at AFL-CIO Texas rally show their support for mandated paid sick leave. Organizers swayed San Antonio, Austin and Dallas to adopt such policies, but they were overturned in the courts. - Photo Courtesy of AFL-CIO website
Photo Courtesy of AFL-CIO website
Workers at AFL-CIO Texas rally show their support for mandated paid sick leave. Organizers swayed San Antonio, Austin and Dallas to adopt such policies, but they were overturned in the courts.
Texas has drawn international condemnation for its draconian new abortion ban, but that's only one aspect of the state's poor treatment of working women, according to a top anti-poverty group.

A new study by Oxfam America ranked Texas 48th out of the 50 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia in its treatment of working women. Only Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina fared worse.

Oxfam, which works to end poverty, bases its annual rankings on three areas: wage policies, worker protections and rights to organize. Among the state policies it considers under those umbrellas are protections for pregnant and breastfeeding women, paid sick time rules, sexual harassment laws, equal pay requirements and protections for domestic workers.

The rankings are based on policies effective July 1 of this year, so Texas' abortion ban was not a factor in the state's ranking near the bottom. 

“This goes beyond reproductive rights. Even in the workplace, Texas does not care about women or their well-being," Oxfam America senior researcher Kaitlyn Henderson said in an emailed statement. "As one of the worst states in the country for working women, Texas does not provide any kind of paid leave, pays below poverty wages and does not accommodate pregnant nor breastfeeding workers."

Indeed, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas have all passed paid sick leave ordinances in recent years, but court rulings prevented them from being enforced. What's more, Gov. Greg Abbott prioritized a bill during the most recent regular legislative session that would have banned municipalities from making employers offer paid sick leave. The measure died on the House floor.

Of the 11 workplace protections for women that Oxfam considers in its rankings, Texas only offered two: protections against sexual harassment and equal pay across gender and race.

“So, in Texas, lawmakers want to limit a woman’s right to choose, but will not make workplaces safe once she conceives or even after she’s given birth," Oxfam's Henderson said. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.”

Oregon, California and New York topped the list as the best states for working women.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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