Today's Fair Shots - Monday, March 13th 2017

1-At the Legislature, the Bill Avalanche Is Over

2-Be a Virtual Lobbyist on Education Issues

3-Federal Workers Under Attack: Do Something!


1. Friday was the 60th day of the legislative session, a milestone in that the deadline for lawmakers to file substantive legislation without getting special permission from colleagues has passed.

   The avalanche of bills and joint resolutions brings the total of those proposals to well over 6,500. 

   The decline in new bill flow will quickly give way to a ramp-up of committee hearings and floor action in the House and Senate. In the coming weeks, the fate of all the proposals will be at stake.

   The Dallas Morning News caught the very temporary pause in the action ahead of a starting shot on Monday:

  As the sun started to set in Austin on Friday, lawmakers were still scrambling to fill bills at the Capitol, submitting last-minute legislation that would exempt breastfeeding moms from jury duty, require universities to put cats and dogs used in research up for adoption and create a system that would let Texans send a text to 9-1-1.
  Friday was the 60th day of the session and the last day lawmakers could file legislation. Most of the blockbuster bills of the session have been filed - bathroomssanctuary citiesthe state's foster care system - but even more slipped into the system Friday: nearly 900...
  [F]or all intents and purposes, Friday was the cutoff, and lawmakers posted signs on their office doors at the Capitol saying as much. 
  One, from Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy, told visitors "NO MORE" and then featured photos of men named Bill, including former President Bill Clinton and Bill Nye (the science guy).  Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, showed a photo of Chuck Norris with the caption, "Don't even think about bringing that bill up in here."

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2017/03/10/long-last-deadline-file-bills-texas-legislature-passed

2. Do Something! #1: Texas AFT will hold a Lobby Day at the Texas Capitol today, March 13.

You may not be able to show up in Austin, but here's the next best thing: a virtual lobby day organized by the union.

Go to https://actionnetwork.org/campaigns/virtual-lobby-day-hq and follow the instructions to weigh in on some of the most important workplace issues facing teachers, including affordable health care, pensions, the fight to stop private school vouchers and the Paycheck Deception bill.

3) Do Something! #2: Our Brothers and Sisters in the American Federation of Government Employees are girding for battle against serious congressional attacks on their ability to speak up together.

Shannon Faulk of AFGE relayed a letter detailing a couple of truly bad pieces of legislation that are under consideration.

   This letter is a reminder that while the focus of the Texas AFL-CIO is on the Texas Legislature, we also cannot forget our role advocating for working people with the Texas delegation in Congress. The letter went to AFGE members, but those of us who are not AFGE members can very readily alter the suggested script:

   Right now, Congress is working on the most extreme union-busting, pension-stealing bills we've seen yet. 

  These attacks focus on official time, one of our core union rights that AFGE uses to help employees get fair representation in workplace disputes. Anti-government employee lawmakers are trying to rush through bills that limit our union rights and silence our voice in the workplace. 

  Here's what you need to know about H.R. 1364, the Government-wide Anti-Union Representation Bill: 

  • It eliminates the use of official time by making it far too difficult for managers and federal employees to successfully work together to address mission-related challenges

  • It revokes our union's ability to stand up for workers who have been wrongfully fired, disciplined, harassed or intimidated 

  • It steals the pension of any worker who exceeds a limited amount of time spent representing employees who have been disciplined, harassed, or intimidated 

  Disgusting, right? Wait until you hear about H.R. 1259, the VA Anti-Union Representation Bill

  • This bill specifically targets Title 5 and Title 38 rights at the VA, and takes away all grievance rights for workers facing a removal, demotion or suspension  

  • It gives agency officials the power to take back compensation you've already earned 

  • The bill gives management the upper-hand by radically shortening the time unfairly fired VA workers can prepare their case 

  • It limits the time unfairly fired workers can appeal to the MSPB to just 7 days.

Here's what we need you to do right now: Call the union rights hotline 1-855-976-5397 to connect with your lawmaker. 

  When the Representative's office answers, tell them this: 

  "Hello, my name is _____, and I'm a member of the American Federation of Government Employees from [City, State] . Please tell the Representative to vote NO on H.R. 1364, and to vote NO on H.R. 1259. These bills do nothing to improve government. They simply attack my rights at work and my ability to provide for my family. Thank you." 

We must all work together to stop union busting dead in its tracks. Thank you for all that you do. 

  In solidarity,

  AFGE 

P.S. Legislation like this moves fast - are you signed up for our text messages so you can be ready? Text "AFGE" to 225568 from your personal phone (never your government phone) and answer the three questions to subscribe!