TODAY'S FAIR SHOTS - April 28th, 2017

1-John Patrick: SB 4 'Will Harm All Working People'

2-Bill Requiring Parental Consent for Minors to Join a Union Hit Hard in Committee

3-Stand in Solidarity With Writers Guild

4-Pilots and Flight Attendants at American Airlines in Line for Mid-Contract Pay Raise

5-Corrected Links for Workers Defense Project Events

6-IATSE to Rally for Film Incentives at Texas Capitol

1-The Texas House gave final approval yesterday to SB 4, the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill.

   Sadly, after 16 hours of debate, the measure ended up worse than it had started. A key amendment allows police to question people about immigration status any time they are detained. Before the debate began, the standard was that they had to be under arrest. 

The United Labor Legislative Committee strongly OPPOSES SB 4, which also requires jailers to jump any time federal immigration officials make a request to detain someone charged with a crime who might otherwise be released on bail. Neither federal nor state law currently requires a sheriff to honor detainer requests without a court order.

  The bill now returns to the Senate, which will make a decision either to accept House amendments or proceed to a conference committee


                                                                        April 27, 2017

                                                                        News Release

                                                                        Contacts: John Patrick,

                                                                        Rick Levy or Ed Sills,



Texas AFL-CIO: Immigrant Working People Will Suffer Under SB 4, But So Will State as a Whole

       In the wake of final Texas House approval of its version of SB 4, the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill, Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick issued this statement:

  Approval of a harsh, "show me your papers"-style bill that drafts local criminal justice officials into becoming an arm of the federal immigration system marks one of the saddest days I have ever spent around the Texas Legislature. 

  This bill will harm all working people. Immigrants do some of the hardest jobs in our state and are net contributors not just to our economy but to our future. SB 4 will not only make it easier for unscrupulous employers to deny important workplace rights to immigrants, but will also undermine important labor standards for all workers.

  SB 4 is also bad for our Brothers and Sisters in law enforcement who depend on the trust of those who live in the communities they police. That trust could become all but unobtainable under SB 4.

  Worst of all, SB 4 will broadly discriminate against minorities in Texas, regardless of immigration status. It will increase the number of times American citizens are asked about their immigration status because of their appearance or language. By making mere detention, rather than arrest, the threshold for questioning immigration status, the law will ensnare people who are not even suspected of committing a crime.

  We believe there is broad consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken. But SB 4 will simply increase discrimination and hardship rather than point toward comprehensive immigration reform.  

      The Texas AFL-CIO is a state labor federation consisting of 237,000 affiliated union members who advocate for working families in Texas.


2- HB 1987, the House version of the bill that would require parental consent for a minor to join a labor union in Texas, today ran into some serious resistance in the form of hard-hitting testimony explaining why unions should not be R-rated.

  The hearing before the House Economic and Small Business Development Committee also was distinguished by what may be a first-ever remark in the annals of Texas labor history.

  "Thank you very much," the cordial Chair Angie Chen Button, R-Garland, told Cassidee Griffin, a 24-year-old Kroger employee who joined the United Food and Commercial Workers union at the age of 16. "Your parents should be very proud of you."

  Griffin had told the committee that at one point in her employment she was being underpaid by $3 an hour, a situation that the union helped her remedy, back pay included. 

  "I am here today to testify against this bill because when I was old enough to make the choice to go to work, I was old enough to make the choice to join a union," Griffin said.

  Griffin, who has recently performed field organizing work for the state labor federation, said 16- and 17-year-old workers at Kroger are trusted to handle cash, return lost children to their parents and dodge reckless drivers in the parking lot. "They ought to be trusted by elected leaders in Austin to voluntarily join a union, if they choose," Griffin said.

  Joe Montemayor, a former UFCW member who is now with the Texas State Employees Union, testified that he worked for a non-union grocery store at the age of 16 and without parentalconsent performed tasks that were dangerous if not illegal.

  "We got little to no training," Montemayor said. "They would lift us on fork lifts, balancing on pallets, to throw away rotten meat too heavy to lift into a dumpster. We would work hours in 100-degree Houston weather unloading trucks of canned goods or sweeping/painting stripes of the parking lot."

 And what happened when workers complained? "We would be answered with threats of termination and harassment."

 After Montemayor joined UFCW at Kroger, his training became professional, he obtained reimbursement for books used to attend college and he built up a small pension.

 "The way I see things," Montemayor said, "is that if you are old enough to work and get exploited, then you should be old enough to organize and join a union."

 The panel also heard other professional assessments of the bill. 

 Anthony Elmo, representing UFCW, said the union places heavy emphasis on safety training and advocating for decent benefits. Both of those goals are appreciated by 16- and 17-year-old employees, none of whom were required by law to get parental permission to work at Kroger.

 Christa Davis, Public Relations Manager at the union-friendly American Income Life, said minors should get to make their own decision to join a union. Some of the benefits they receive in unions might include AIL's products, but in every case they are benefits negotiated between Kroger and its employees.

 Elaine Edwards, an attorney at Deats, Durst & Owen, offered an expert take on the legal landscape, arguing that HB 1987 would be unconstitutional because, among other things, it usurps a role that is exclusively reserved to the National Labor Relations Act. One lawmaker took note that groups like the Boy Scouts of America and high school girls' soccer teams require parental consent, but Edwards made the distinction that those consents are related to medical permission, which is covered by a different area of the law.

 No one testified in favor of the bill. The House sponsor, Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, cited Sen. Jane Nelson's account of the genesis of SB 75, the Senate version.

3-With pride and best wishes for a decent contract, the Texas AFL-CIO passes along and endorses this statement of solidarity by the AFL-CIO:

  The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the members of Writers Guild of America, East, and Writers Guild of America, West, as they negotiate an industrywide collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a trade group consisting of the major film and television companies.

  The members of the Writers Guilds deserve a fair return on their work at an incredibly profitable time for their industry. The top six companies made $51 billion in profits in 2016. Yet, the average television writer's pay decreased by 23% over the last two years. Additionally, the writers need their employers to pay their fair share toward Guild-sponsored health benefit plans in order to keep up with the health care cost inflation affecting us all.

  Nobody should be asked to sacrifice family-supporting pay and access to quality health care simply to pad the corporate profits that are a result of their hard work. The AFL-CIO urges the AMPTP to come to agreement with the Writers Guilds before their contract's expiration on May 1.

4- Unions representing Flight Attendants and Pilots at American Airlines have been upset, with plenty of justification, over the disparity between their pay and those of competitors. Now, the Dallas Morning News reports, the company is proposing to do something about itmid-contract.

  The unions must still approve the proposal, which otherwise does not appear to affect the contract:

  American Airlines is taking the rare step of offering a mid-contract raise to its roughly 37,000 pilots and flight attendants after months of simmering tensions about pay rates that lagged behind United and Delta airlines.
The company said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it plans to increase pay rates for flight attendants by an average of about 5 percent, while pilots would see an average bump of 8 percent. 
  The unexpected wage increase comes as American Airlines executives attempt to overcome more than a decade of fractured relationships between management and front-line employees.

  In a letter to employees, CEO Doug Parker said the decision to offer the raises outside of contract negotiations - a move virtually unheard of in the industry - is part of a "philosophical change" at the airline...
  The pay increase for flight attendants will range from 4.2 to 6.5 percent depending on seniority. Pilots will see a bump of 7 to 8.7 percent depending on seniority and type of aircraft flown.
  American said flight attendants' base pay scale would match Delta's and be 5 percent above United's. For pilots, the pay rates would be similar to Delta's and on par with other competitors.

Read more:

5- In Tuesday's e-mail, I inadvertently flipped a couple of links on upcoming Workers Defense Project events for Workers Memorial Day, which is tomorrow, and May Day.

  Here is a reminder with the links in the right place, direct from the horse's mouth:

1. International Workers Day:  Monday May 1st. We will be meeting at Austin City Hall at around 2:30. We will then have some speakers, and then march to the south steps of the capitol at 3:30, where there will be some more speakers, and then the event will come to a close.¬if_id=1493120382145115

2. Worker Memorial Day: Friday April 28th. We plan to meet at 11:45am (look for folks with WDP shirts) at the capitol extension E2 along the central gallery, you will see our altar and exhibit. We will start with a small program where we exhibit our altar and share our testimonies. Following this small program, we will end with legislative visits at the capitol from 1:00 - 3:00pm.

6-Another heads-up: the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees will rally in favor of Texas film incentives funding at the Texas Capitol. 

  IATSE 484 reports the event will take place 10 a.m. Thursday, May 4 on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol. Besides supporting the union in solidarity, I'll be watching closely how they handle the sound, visuals, etc.