American employers have become the last firewall against the GOP’s assault on women’s rights — because doing so is in their financial interest….Women’s rights activists have lately found a somewhat unlikely ally in the fight against these laws: corporate America.
A host of employers with workers in Texas condemned the state’s abortion ban last year. Citigroup, Yelp, Apple, Levi Strauss, Bumble, Match Group and others have also recently expanded employee health coverage of reproductive care, including covering travel expenses for out-of-state abortion care.Some firms, such as Salesforce, have offered to relocate employees and their families to states that respect women’s constitutional rights to reproductive autonomy. Uber and Lyft announced they will pay legal costs for any drivers sued under Texas’s bounty-hunting provisions.
Companies once studiously skirted divisive social issues, but, lately, they have been forced to take positions. In 2019, there was a similar chorus of corporate opposition when GOP-led states attempted to enact similar restrictions on abortion access. Threats to relocate entire offices, or cancel planned investments, have likewise arisen when states sought laws enabling discrimination against LGBTQ people.
The GOP reaction to such corporate actions is not, alas, respect for the free market. Republicans are no longer preaching reverence for limited government or business leaders’ rights to make their own decisions about employee benefits or investments. Or for firms to locate wherever the regulatory environment is most attractive.
Instead, the GOP response has been driven by vengeance and efforts to exert control — arguably much like the abortion bans themselves.Right-wing politicians have condemned corporations for their supposedly “woke,” “far-left” health-care benefits. Worse, they have tried to use the power of the state to punish companies offering workers more options for their reproductive care.
One Texas state lawmaker recently threatened Citigroup with criminal prosecution; he also said he would introduce legislation next term barring Citigroup from underwriting municipal bonds in Texas unless it rescinded its policy reimbursing employees for travel out of state for abortion care.AdvertisementLest this sound like an idle threat, note that Texas has already implemented similar measures prohibiting government entities from doing business with companies that have adopted policies on firearms or vaccinations contrary to GOP preferences.
As I have written before: In today’s Republican Party, the primary economic goal of the state is no longer to let free markets determine winners and losers; it is to use government to reward friends and punish political enemies….What these politicians apparently fail to recognize is that these firms are not wading into culture-war clashes because of deeply held “woke” beliefs. Companies are generally amoral. They are offering more reproductive care to workers (or, say, belatedly condemning anti-LGBTQ laws) because they believe doing so will help their bottom lines.
Companies need to attract and retain talent, including female talent. And conditions in some places are now a hard sell. ….Companies must prove to employees and prospective hires — at least those with the education and skills to command greater bargaining power — that their rights will be respected, and their families will have access to the health care they need.Opinion | Corporate America somehow became the last firewall for abortion rights – The Washington Post