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Mississippi Needs A Fair Labor Division To Support Workers, Dem AG Candidate Says

Greta Kemp Martin campaigning for Attorney General
Mississippi attorney general candidate Greta Kemp Martin said at a press conference on Aug. 31, 2023, that she wants to create a division of labor in the attorney general’s office to “investigate and litigate cases involving serious or persistent wage violations and other significant labor and employment practices, including danger in the workplace.” Photo courtesy Greta Kemp Martin campaign

Mississippi workers deserve safe work environments and equitable pay, Democratic candidate for attorney general Greta Kemp Martin said at a press conference in Jackson, Miss., on Aug. 31.

She said she wants to give working Mississippians a voice in the government by establishing a division of fair labor in the attorney general’s office, since the Magnolia State is one of just a handful in the country without a department of labor. The Mississippi attorney general is allowed to create and dissolve divisions.

“This division will investigate and litigate cases involving serious or persistent wage violations and other significant labor and employment practices, including danger in the workplace,” Martin said.

Martin said she would also add a legislative advisory council under the fair labor division “to monitor and propose legislation for our lawmakers, including labor and employment issues.”

The fair labor division is part of Martin’s “roadmap to restoring public integrity through the attorney general’s office,” a nine-step plan to get Mississippi “back on track.” Some of the other steps focus on health care, public corruption and campaign finance issues.

Robert Shaffer, president of the state’s AFL-CIO labor union, said Mississippi workers deserve more representation at the state level.

“We are the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t have any form of a voice for workers in government at all,” Schaffer said at the press conference. “And if you try to do anything about it, you get put down.”

Lawmakers need to ensure children are protected from dangerous jobs instead of repealing work restrictions for minors, Martin said. She said Attorney General Lynn Fitch should have investigated the death of Duvan Tomas Perez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan immigrant who died at the Mar-Jac Poultry Plant in Hattiesburg., Miss, on July 14.

“One might ask why someone so young was engaged in this dangerous work in the first place,” Martin said. “Maybe someone should have stood up and demanded answers. That someone should have been the attorney general, but it wasn’t, and it hasn’t been.”

The Mississippi Free Press called Fitch’s office for comment for this story but did not receive a response.

If elected, Martin said she would fight for working mothers to get equal pay, arguing that Mississippi has not been able to pass a “meaningful equal pay law.” Mississippi women who work full-time jobs make 16.4% less than their male counterparts, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. The Legislature passed and Gov. Reeves signed an equal pay law last year, but equal pay advocates like those at the Mississippi Black Women’s Round Table warned it would do little to solve wage discrimination.

“Women make up 49% of the workforce but are three times as likely to have a lower-paying job,” Martin said.

The general election is Nov. 7. Register to vote in person by Oct. 9, 2023, or the mailed voter applications must be postmarked by Oct. 10, 2023, to qualify to vote on Election Day. The secretary of state’s website has more information at

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