TODAY'S FAIR SHOTS - MARCH 30th, 2017
1-SB 13, Powered by Ideology and No Evidence of a Problem, Moves Forward
2-Drug Testing for Unemployed Workers Re-Enters the Horizon
3-ULLCO Endorses Licensing Bill
4-U.S. Women's Hockey Team Reaches Deal to End Strike, But Only After Amazing Level of Solidarity Within the Sport
5-Info on Corpus Christi's Cesar Cha¡vez Celebration
1. The Texas Senate yesterday tentatively approved SB 13, the Paycheck Deception bill that takes away the freedom of state and local employees to support the labor organizations of their choice through payroll dues deduction.
The vote to send the measure to a final vote Thursday was 20-11. All 11 Democrats voted "no" and most of them engaged energetically in debate with the bill's author, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston.
Huffman, knowing she had the votes, repeatedly fell back on the argument that government should not be in the business of collecting dues for labor organizations. She never offered any justification for that view beyond ideology. Nor did she provide evidence of a problem with using the same voluntary, cost-free payroll deduction system that state and local employees may steer to insurance companies, advocacy organizations and charities.
Huffman tried to make the distinction between First Responders, who are exempt from the bill, and other state and local employees by saying police and firefighter unions are not known to "harass" employers in Texas. But she had no examples in which other unions of public employees had "harassed" employers.
"One person's harassment is another person's political activism," Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said while questioning Huffman about the bill.
Watson noted the main proponents of the bill are business organizations that do not represent public employees.
Huffman was also grilled by Sens. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, José Rodriguez, D-El Paso, John Whitmire, D-Houston, Royce West, D-Dallas, and Borris Miles, D-Houston. Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, offered several strong amendments, but they were voted down by the same margin that the bill passed. The senators relayed testimony from a variety of public employees who said SB 13 would be a significant hardship to them and they could not understand why the Legislature would pursue the bill.
At one point, Huffman declared, "This is a fight against unions." But it was beyond that, even though the measure was first conceived by the rabidly anti-union National Right to Work Foundation and even though the Texas Public Policy Foundation published a report estimating a substantial decline in public union membership if the bill becomes law. It's a fight against teachers, against correctional officers, against child abuse investigators and against most other stripes of public employees who only want what most working people would consider a routine employer service.
Particularly galling was Huffman's general assertion that correctional officers, teachers and other dedicated public employees fall short in some way when it comes to meriting payroll deduction, which state and local governments basically provide with a few clicks of a keyboard.