Today's Fair Shots - May 12th, 2017

1-Next Step for 'Buy American' Bill: One More House Vote, Then Back to the Senate

2-AFL-CIO Provides National Platform to John Patrick Criticism of SB 4 Signing

3-Federal Overtime Pay Bill Called 'Invitation to Wage Theft'

4-AFL-CIO Raising Profile of Right-Wing Bradley Foundation, Which Seeks to Decimate Labor Unions

5-San Antonio Building Trades Union Plan Dinner to Raise Funds to Renovate VFW Hall, Begin 'Union Santa' Program

6-Texas AFL-CIO Convention Credentials Due May 23; Join Us in Houston

1) The Texas House yesterday gave tentative approval to the "Buy American" bill. In the process, House members rejected an effort to take water development projects out of the scope of the modest preference for U.S. iron and steel in construction projects.

  SB 1289, sponsored in the House by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, advanced on a bipartisan 114-29 vote. A final vote is scheduled to take place on Friday.

  A key vote occurred on an amendment by Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, which would have ended the  "Buy American" provisions adopted in 2013 by the Legislature on water development projects. That idea, opposed by organized labor, was rejected on a 65-76 vote. The Senate had adopted the same amendment, and the Texas AFL-CIO will urge senators to accept the House version when the bill returns to the Senate for further consideration.

  A separate amendment by Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, removed "manufactured goods" from the bill. That is significant, because the Senate bill also lacks that provision.

  Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas, who began introducing "Buy American" bills several sessions ago, was a key player in the debate. Davis said that while the "manufactured goods" amendment weakened the bill, SB 1289 would take a step forward in promoting American jobs. 

  With plenty of justification, Davis took note that she was working this bill for years before national politics created a much broader range of support. 

  "I'd like it stronger," Davis said. "But I don't want to lose the value of voting to support our own."

  Interestingly, several lawmakers who participated in the debate referred to low-road competition from "Communist China" in advocating for the measure.

  The United Steelworkers union has advocated for this bill throughout the legislative session, as has the United Labor Legislative Committee. 

  The Texas Tribune reports the discussion was as bipartisan as the vote:

  Senate Bill 1289 by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, would increase "Buy America" provisions already in effect for the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Water Development Board to all state agencies. The bill also says that if American suppliers aren't prepared to supply a project or there is a compelling state interest, any country's iron and steel can be used.

  "The steel companies in my district over the years have struggled at times. They used to employ thousands of people, and now it's hundreds," the bill's House sponsor, state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, told The Texas Tribune. "Foreign steel from China and Turkey are undercutting the market."

  Several members from both sides of the aisle - including state Reps. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton; Larry Phillips, R-Sherman; and Wayne Faircloth, R-Galveston, among others - pledged their support to Paddie's measure...

  The lower chamber's approval of SB 1289 comes amid President Donald Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, which Paddie said may help garner momentum for his bill. Last session, a similar measure was filed by state Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas, but died in a House committee.

  "This is one of the few times I agree with President Trump. He has made an emphasis on American jobs," said state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City.

  Supporters of the measure said the bill will encourage reinvestment in the U.S. and revive Texas manufacturing. Stan Baucum, the director of structural and merchant products at Gerdau, the largest producer of long steel in the Americas, told the Tribune he thought the use of American-made products would help rebuild the state's iron and steel sector.

  "Taxpayer dollars should not benefit offshore producers who heavily subsidize their industries and dump their products on Texas shores," Baucum said. "Instead, this commonsense bill will help support highly skilled, high paying jobs in the Texas economy."

  Read more:

2) Word of Gov. Greg Abbott's signing of SB 4, the so-called 'sanctuary cities" bill, is spreading, and the fight has just begun. The AFL-CIO today reprinted Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick's statement blasting the measure on its national blog.

  Go to:

3) In five words, the editorial board of The New York Times has encapsulated a proposed rewriting of the overtime law that won U.S. House approval.

  "An Invitation to Wage Theft" says it all. This bill needs to die in the U.S. Senate:

  It's called the "Working Families Flexibility Act," but it would accommodate only employers and could cheat families. The bill, which the House recently passed, would supposedly let employees who work overtime choose paid time off rather than time-and-a-half wages.

  But the time off would come at the convenience of employers, who would have 13 months to schedule it.

  This is not allowed under current law, for good reason: Most employers would prefer to postpone pay whenever possible, and employees are likely to go along with their boss's wishes regardless of their own. Current law avoids any such coercion by requiring overtime to be paid in the pay period it's earned.

  The Republican bill would not only make employees vulnerable to wage delays, but to wage theft. An employer could deny a time-off request by deeming it "unduly" disruptive - a vague standard that basically gives employers total control over when the time off is taken. If an employee tires of waiting and asks, instead, for the pay, employers could take up to 30 days to honor the request. If any employee quits or a company goes out of business, unpaid overtime could be difficult or impossible to extract from the employer.

  Besides, current law already allows for flexibility in workers' schedules. Employers can let employees vary their start and end times, or schedule four 10-hour workdays with an extra day off each week, or nine-hour workdays with a day off every other week.

4) The AFL-CIO is sounding a long-term alarm with regard to the Bradley Foundation, a right-wing group that is not as well-known as the Koch Brothers but no less organized in its plan to decimate labor unions.

  A recent trove of hacked documents revealed the Bradley Foundation's political agenda, which includes state-by-state plans to win policy battles by electing receptive Republicans. The foundation has strong ties to Texas, having provided significant funding to the Texas Public Policy Foundation and other right-wing groups. TPPF's Arlene Wohlgemuth, a former right-wing state representative in Texas, sits on the Bradley Foundation's board.

  An intro:

  New investigations by Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy analyze hacked internal documents, which reveal that much like the Koch network, the Bradley Foundation has launched a national strategy to help conservatives control the branches of state governments and alter state policy to lower taxes, shrink government and attack labor unions.

  The Bradley Foundation, which has historically supported taxpayer-funded "school choice" initiatives and work requirements for welfare recipients, is named after Lynde and Harry Bradley, two brothers who founded the profitable factory automation manufacturer Allen Bradley Co. After Lynde's death in 1942, the Allen-Bradley Foundation was established. When Allen Bradley was sold to Rockwell International in 1985 for $1.7 billion, the foundation's assets ballooned and it became the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation as it added a focus on promoting the brothers' conservative ideology on a national scale.

  Thirty gigabytes of Bradley Foundation internal documents hacked by a group named Anonymous Poland reveal that after a $200 million influx of cash in late 2012 from the trust of Caroline Bradley, Lynde's wife, the Bradley Foundation geared up to fund networks of conservative think tanks, legal centers, candidate recruitment organizations, media outlets and advocacy groups in 13 states, based on the foundation's successful efforts in Wisconsin. The foundation had already laid the groundwork for a welfare-to-work program and a private school voucher system and defended GOP Gov. Scott Walker in a campaign finance probe, helping him survive a recall election prompted by his dismantling of public-sector unions.

  Read more:


  More on the topic: 

  It is important to note that between 1986 and 2015, Bradley contributed a total of $1.1 million to the right-wing bill mill the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, Grant History Proposal, 8/16/16). During this period, ALEC produced a raft of damaging anti-union "model bills" including the misnamed "Right-to-Work Act" and the "Paycheck Protection Act." Bradley also provided millions more to ALEC's sister group the State Policy Network of "think tanks" in the states.

  Also, an insidious tool for the Foundation is $250,000 "Bradley Prizes" that have gone to, among others, newspaper columnists and some politicians. Two key Wall Street Journal editorial board members received the prize, as did Roger Ailes, George Will and Jeb Bush. That should raise ethics eyebrows. In contrast, the Pulitzer Prize value was raised this year from $10,000 to $15,000: 

5) The San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council has announced a "first annual" dinner aimed at raising funds to renovate the oldest Veterans of Foreign Wars post and to launch a "Union Santa" program. VFW 76 will be 100 years old at the end of June, the Council reports.

  The event takes place Wednesday, May 24 from 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. at 10 10th St., in San Antonio. Local runoff candidates are expected to attend and be available for questions.

  To obtain tickets or for questions, contact Debbie Garza, (310-842-4242 or e-mail

6) Here's the first of what will be several reminders, even as the legislative session hits its moments of truth, that the Texas AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention will take place Friday, June 23rd, to Sunday, June 25th at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston.

  Themed "Building a Workers' Movement in Texas," the convention will, as always, develop a plan of action for the state labor federation in the next two years. The convention will feature interactive workshops, issue panels and speakers. For the first time, a union karaoke contest will take place on one of the convention evenings, with a trophy and bragging rights at stake. The officers and staff of the Texas AFL-CIO intend to break the ice on that particular event by demonstrating the full measure of our singing ability. You won't want to miss it.

  We encourage unions to send a full complement of delegates, including, as available, Brothers and Sisters who have not had the chance to participate in a convention before. Credentials are due on May 23.

  If you are an affiliated union member looking to become a delegate and you have questions, please contact Emily Speight at (512)477-6195 or