1-Wow! Higher Pay Improves Child Abuse Investigation System

2-Texas State Employees Union Marches, Rallies for Better Livelihoods

3-House Panel Advances 'Sanctuary Cities' Bill; It's Improved Only in the Lipstick on a Pig Sense

4-Minors Have Excelled in Labor Unions Without Parental Permission

5-ADAPT Holds Overnight Vigil in Support of Better Pay for Home-Care Attendants

6-Do Something! Help IATSE in Battle to Fund Film Incentives So More Movies Are Made in Texas

1. It's no miracle! It's not astonishing! But it's a breakthrough.


   Faced with preventable deaths of children and huge turnover among child abuse investigators who have been underpaid and overworked, the state gave caseworkers a $12,000 pay raise.

   Bob Garrett of the Dallas Morning News reports the results: More timely initial visits to the homes of endangered children. Less turnover. And a giant leap in agency and legislative morale.

   This is not rocket science:

  Apparently cheered by $12,000 pay raises, an average of just 72 caseworkers a month have left the agency since salary bumps showed up in January paychecks.

  In the last four months of 2016, a whopping 131 caseworkers quit on average, according to an analysis of data released by CPS' parent, the Department of Family and Protective Services.

  Key lawmakers welcomed the statistics, with some taking them as an omen that a long-sought improvement of investigative performance and employee retention at the troubled agency is finally under way...

  "CPS across the board received an unprecedented lift when the pay raises and additional employees were approved in December," department spokesman Patrick Crimmins said in a written statement. "The governor and Legislature deserve the credit for that, and for their continued very firm encouragement that the performance of CPS must improve."

  Between March 19 and March 25, investigators made face-to-face contact with 92 percent of "Priority 1" children within 24 hours, as required by law, according to the agency's most recent weekly report to the Legislative Budget Board. Priority 1, or "P1" kids are those mentioned in the most worrisome maltreatment tips to the state child-abuse hotline.

  Read more:

2. Now that child abuse investigators have better pay, it's time to make similar improvements in the livelihoods of the rest of the state workforce.

   The Texas State Employees Union marched and rallied at the Capitol yesterday in support of better working conditions.

   TSEU is beset by a variety of problems this legislative session, including a stingy state budget proposal, threats to public employee pensions, proposed privatization boondoggles and the Paycheck Deception bill. Every two years, TSEU highlights its core program for a better Texas at this event, and today was no exception.

   "Stop pretending like Texas is broken," TSEU President Judy Lugo urged lawmakers before a crowd of about 1,000 state workers from across Texas. Lugo called for "real pay raises" and noted not a nickel has been set aside for a general state employee raise in either the Senate or House budgets.

   Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rick Levy blasted SB 13, the bill that would take away the freedom of those in attendance (and other state and local public employees) to support the labor organization of their choice through payroll dues deduction, and noted the advantage that the crowd has over him in addressing the Legislature.

   "We're here every day...They're sick of hearing from me," Levy noted. "But when you come from their districts, when you're the ones that fight for them, when you're the ones that elect them, they listen to you."

   Brother Claude Cummings of the Communications Workers of America District 6 turned to the audience and said, "You're doing your job!" then turned to the Capitol and shouted, "What about you doing your job?"

   Watch the full rally on the Texas AFL-CIO Facebook page: 

   Better yet, see an outstanding summary video, including part of the march, created by Texas AFL-CIO Digital Strategist Mark Maldonado: 

3.  Voting along party lines, a House panel yesterday approved SB 4, the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill.

   The 7-5 vote by the House State Affairs Committee advances the measure to the full House. The panel, which approved the bill weeks after a marathon hearing, diluted some of the bad provisions but did not address the fundamental objections of opponents.

   The United Labor Legislative Committee continues to OPPOSE SB 4, believing it will lead to discrimination and make it harder for law officers to do their jobs. The House may take up the bill in the next couple of weeks.

   The Texas Tribune compares and contrasts the Senate and House versions of the bill. The House improvements were authored by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth:

  Like the Senate version, it still makes sheriffs, constables and police chiefs subject to a Class A misdemeanor for failing to cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold non-citizen inmates subject to removal - usually booked on crimes unrelated to immigration violations.

  But the House version only allows peace officers to ask people about their immigration status if they are arrested and not those who have been solely detained for other reasons.

  Despite the changes, some Democrats still argued that cops shouldn't be in the immigration-enforcement business.

  "It still creates a chilling effect for immigrants to work with local law enforcement, and it still perverts the mission of local law enforcement," said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas. "You can be arrested for anything, virtually. It doesn't require due process, it simply requires probable cause."

  The House bill also kept intact the Senate's requirement to include college campuses in the bill's provisions. Anchia said that could lead to deportation for college students for something as minor as being in the possession of an open container of alcohol, which would normally result in a citation.

  But Geren said he worked diligently on the bill to try to appease some of its critics. His version clarifies that it doesn't apply to public schools or hospital districts, and he added a provision where law officers hired by religious organizations wouldn't be subject to the bill's requirements.

  Geren also changed language in the bill to make a punishment only applicable to the head of the law enforcement agency deemed non-compliant. The Senate version allows the state to withhold funds from the entire local government body, similar to the punishment Gov. Greg Abbott issued to Travis County earlier this year after Sheriff Sally Hernandez decided she would limit cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Read more:

4.  Bob Comeaux, a long-time union teacher in San Antonio and a walking encyclopedia on many aspects of labor history, was kind enough to relay two anecdotes related to SB 75, the bill that would require parental consent for minors to join a labor unions.

   Brother Comeaux concedes his memory may be a little fuzzy on a detail or two, but he vouches for the gist of the stories and strongly argues that parental consent might keep some amazing teens from getting an early start in leadership roles. The first recollection involves a situation in which a father was not happy with his daughter's considered decision to join a union until it was too late. The reference to "Elmo" involves Brother Anthony Elmo of the United Food and Commercial Workers:

   I remember this from my days at UFCW Local #455 in Houston (could have been Retail Clerks Local #455 at the time):
  And forgive my haziness but this was in the 1970's I believe - it was when the Union Label and Service Trades Department held their big exhibition in Houston at the Albert Thomas Convention Center -
  One of our young under-18 checkers had joined the union and was a great union member.  Her dad was livid and tried to get her out of the union, though she fought him tooth-and-nail.  Though she was a part-timer, she was very involved, and she helped us staff our booth at the Union Label Show.  Shortly afterwards, she was killed in a car wreck.
  Her father was astonished to learn that part-timers had benefits, including a death benefit of about $12,000 if I recall correctly.  I believe his opinion of unions went up multifold.  It was too bad that it took a tragedy for him to learn of the benefits of solidarity.  He should have known that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that protects our right of freedom of association applied to his daughter as well.  I agree with Brother Elmo that this bill which hopefully will be killed in the House would be found to be unconstitutional.
  Peace and Solidarity (and thanks to the United Labor Legislative Team that is fighting so much bad legislation!)

   The second points up a connection between the work of minors and the Nobel Prize-winning labor leader Lech Walesa, along with the Solidarity movement in Poland:

   One other memory:

  In 1981 (I believe), many Solidarnosc members from Poland came to the United States under threat of arrest or worse as they strove to build a true, democratic trade union. Two of those workers shared an apartment I provided to them free of charge until they demanded to pay rent after they had gotten on their feet financially.  One, Kris Marczewcha (I never could spell his name) was 17, but he was the equivalent of a steward in his Polish workplace.  He was but one of numerous under 18 union leaders who helped bring down a Communist regime.

5. Political reporter Jonathan Tilove of the Austin American-Statesman did a long-form "First Reading" on the all-night vigil by our friends at ADAPT of Texas, which advocates for disability rights.

   As we have done in the past, the Texas AFL-CIO was proud to provide access to our building to ADAPT as the group organized and maintained its action on the south side of the Capitol complex.

   Tilove reports a major issue in the vigil is substandard wages for home care attendants. Those attendants currently make $8 an hour; ADAPT is asking for that wage to rise to $10 an hour:

   About 25 people in wheelchairs and other disability advocates spent last night into this morning on the sidewalk in front of the south gate to the Capitol, an all-night vigil to protest to a state budget that they say, unless it is changed, will decimate services, especially attendant care, without which many of those with disabilities will not able to continue to live independently and will have to rely on far more expensive and less desirable nursing home care... 

  It was a somewhat familiar scene.

  From a First Reading in May of 2015, Kafka's Law: `You never look good arresting disabled people'...

  Kafka, Cranston and a few other advocates met with Gov. Abbott in his office on Jan. 11, a meeting that was arranged after they showed up last year at a signing for the Governor's book, Broken but Unbowed, a few blocks from the Capitol at the Texas Public Policy Foundation building on Congress Avenue.

  They met with Drew Deberrry, the governor's policy director, and MC Lambeth, Abbott's adviser for the Department of Aging and Disability Services.

  And then with Gov. Abbott.

  The meeting with the governor was cordial, Kafka said.

  "The only thing the governor said was that this was a tight budget," Kafka said. "He said he would look at it."

Read more and see some related tweets and videos:

6. Our Brothers and Sisters in the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) are asking for help in the wake of the Texas House's decision to zero out funding to attract films to Texas.

   Fortunately, the decision is not final and you can do something to change it. The United Labor Legislative Committee has a long record of supporting film incentives, which have returned far more to our state than the investment. Personally, I'm tired of seeing film commissions in New Mexico, Louisiana or some other state credited at the end of a movie when relevant scenes were supposed to be taking place in Texas:

  Hello Supporters of the Texas Film Industry,
  We are asking EVERYONE to please call YOUR Legislator TODAY. Let them know that as a constituent, you are asking for their support for the funding of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program. State that this rebate is a vital part of our economy and a program that creates jobs. Be concise and kind. For more talking points or statistics visit
  Please share this message across your entire network. We ask that professors, students, parents, business owners, the police force and every other citizen of Texas who supports our industry to please call in.
  Look up your Legislators HERE! (
  If the link above does not work, copy and paste the following address in to your URL:
  Thank you for your time,
  Robyn Greer
  (512) 567.6400
  I.A.T.S.E. Local 484 Central Region Representative
  I.A.T.S.E. Local 484 YWC Chairwoman
  I.A.T.S.E. Local 484 Assistant Training Chair
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