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Mississippi NAACP Lays Out Its Legislative Priorities

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 18 Feb 2014 05:22pm | comments
NAACP president Derrick Johnson

Mississippi's NAACP says they are targeting five legislative priorities this year including supporting the push for a union at Nissan, expanding Medicaid and improving access to the voting booth.

Three bills have been passed by the state senate that would limit some workers ability to organize as a union that the group considers a  threat to their civil rights.

Shelia Wilson has worked at Nissan's Canton plant for 11 years and says unions are not a threat to Nissan.

"The company is more of a threat. 'If you guys decide to organize and form a union we will close your plant down' to scare us off. We need to be able to let the company step back and let us form our union and vote the way we want to vote," Wilson said.

That's not the perspective of Senator John Polk of Hattiesburg who defended the bills on the floor of the Senate.

He says the threats of unionization could drive businesses out of the state.

"Economic development is key. When we have to compete with all the other states in the south, we have to make sure that everyone realizes that Mississippi wants good industry, paying good pay for good jobs in Mississippi," Polk said.

The NAACP is also supporting an across the board teacher pay raise, Medicaid expansion, a prison reform bill currently in the well as efforts to add two weeks of early voting and same day registration.

Four of those five priorities are in conflict with the agenda of the Republican majorities in both chambers.

NAACP state president Derrick Johnson says it is important to push regardless of the possibility that they might lose.

"Look at the policies that increase the quality of life for those citizens and implement those policies here. If we continue the regressive policies that have not worked for centuries, we should look at something different," Johnson said.

Johnson also says the group still strongly opposes Mississippi voter I-D requirement, even though the secretary of state plans to require a photo I-D starting this year.


NAACP president Derrick Johnson



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