Today's Fair Shots - May 16th, 2017

1-Opportunity Knocks on 'Buy American' Legislation

2-Fight Proposed Privatization at Child Protective Services Program

3-Two Anti-Union Bills Clear a House Committee, But Still Face Hurdles

4-In Wake of SB 4, Houston Chronicle Reports on How Arizona Immigration Law Harmed Business and Law Enforcement; It Also Upped Voter Registration

5-Report: Texas Working People Among Those Wrongly Paid Less Than Minimum Wage

6-Times: Sinclair Requires Local TV Stations to Run Canned Pieces With Rightward Political Tilt

7-Corpus Christi Girl Makes Cover of IAM Magazine in 'Rosie the Riveter' Pose

8-NALC Reaches Tentative Contract Deal

1) Do Something #1!: The Texas Senate will soon consider whether to give final approval to a strong "Buy American" bill. 

  Specifically, the Senate will decide whether to concur with House amendments to SB 1289, which would provide a modest preference for U.S.-made iron and steel in state-funded projects. Unlike the Senate version of the bill, the House version maintains a similar requirement for water development projects.

  The Texas AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers in particular are asking senators to vote for the House version and send the measure directly to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott. 

  You can help by asking your senator to SUPPORT SB 1289 as it now stands. It is worth noting that SB 1289 has not tilted in partisan fashion. The bill has a Republican author and sponsor but a longstanding Democratic pedigree. It has built strong majorities in both chambers, and Democrats and Republicans are on both sides of the issue. Your voice can make a difference.


2)  Do Something #2!: Our Brothers and Sisters in the Communications Workers of America District 6 are asking for help in a fight against yet another privatization proposal, this one incorporated into a decades-long program of providing the state's Child Protective Services program inadequate resources to protect all children.

  Even the most dedicated and capable state employees cannot reach every child when caseloads are beyond most anyone's capacity. But the state has sorry experience in the field of human services when it suggests that a private company will do better. In the end, private companies are not as good nor ultimately cheaper. How could they be when lawmakers trade public employees whose primary mission is to get the job done for private companies whose primary mission is to make a profit?

  Via CWA:

  Tell Texas Lawmakers to stop the outsourcing of state foster care workers until a cost-benefit analysis is conducted.

  On Thursday, May 18th, the Texas House of Representatives will be voting on Senate Bill (SB) 11 to reform Child Protective Services (CPS). Parts of SB 11 call for outsourcing CPS case management of foster care to private contractors. Many of the 3,000 workers whose jobs will be outsourced are members of CWA Local 6186 - the Texas State Employees Union. 

  Under the current system, state CPS caseworkers are responsible for making direct contact with children in foster care, developing the service plan for those foster children, and making decisions over their welfare. If SB 11 becomes law, these critical decision-making responsibilities would be taken from public servants and given to private contractors. 

  Over the years, CPS workers have toiled under low pay and high workloads, all while enduring the stress of protecting at-risk children. These factors resulted in an agency crisis that grabbed statewide media attention. Recently, the Texas Legislature took steps to increase pay and reduce workloads. 

  However, legislators claim that the solution to the CPS crisis is to outsource case management jobs altogether. This is a major step in the wrong direction! 

  Not only does outsourcing disregard state employees who've dedicated their careers to protecting children, it also risks the well-being of children in foster care and their families. 

  Only 2 states have fully privatized foster care case management- Florida and Kansas. Nebraska has most of their foster care system privatized. 

  In each of those states there have been multiple reports that highlight the problems with holding those private contractors accountable when their actions put vulnerable kids at risk or cause them harm. 

  Texas lawmakers have not even studied the issue to see if outsourcing CPS case management is in the best interest of foster children, families, and tax payers. 

  Before outsourcing CPS case management, the state needs to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that taxpayer dollars will be used effectively to improve the lives of foster children and families.



  Call Your Legislator and use the script below. To find their contact info please follow the "Who Represents Me" link,

Follow the script: 
  Hello, my name is __________. I'm calling to ask Rep. ______ to oppose the outsourcing of case management in CPS to private agencies that have never done this work before. With private contractors in charge of vulnerable kids' lives, there will be a conflict of interest between what is best for the children and what is best for the contractor's bottom line. Outsourcing case management hasn't worked in any of the other states where it's been tried. Will Rep. ________ support the amendment by Eddie Rodriguez that would stop outsourcing until a cost-benefit analysis is conducted?

3) Two bills that are opposed by the United Labor Legislative Committee emerged yesterday from the House Economic and Small Business Development Committee.

  SB 75, which would require parental consent for a minor to join a labor union in Texas, and SB 452, which would ban state-funded Project Labor Agreements, now move to the House Calendars Committee, which sets the floor agenda for the full Texas House.

  SB 75 would impose the parental consent requirement even though with a couple of specific exceptions, minors in Texas are not required to even notify their parents when they take a job. 

  And SB 452 would outlaw PLAs that use state funds even though no such project exists or is in the offing. PLAs, however, have proven to be an excellent tool in the private sector for getting big jobs finished on time and on budget with solid middle-class benefits for working people.

  Here's hoping both these bills do not make it to the finish line. The work of union members across the state and in Austin have combined to bring the bills to the brink of key deadlines. The legislative session ends two weeks from today.

  The Texas Tribune posted a story on the latest development on SB 75:

  Those opposed to SB 75 argue that if someone in Texas is old enough to work, they should be able to decide on their own whether to join a union. Others, such as Anthony Elmo, communications and political director for a local United Food and Commercial Workers chapter, say the bill targets minors working in grocery stores, unfairly hindering their freedom and opportunity in the workplace.

  "We're disappointed that politicians who don't understand anything about labor unions would pass this legislation," Elmo told the Tribune in a text message after the vote Monday. "Our young members deserve the right to choose their own pathway of economic opportunity." 

  Between 1,500 to 2,000 minors belong to UFCW Local 1000, a private-sector union representing grocery baggers and clerks in Texas, according to Elmo. 

  Read more:

4) In the wake of the passage of SB 4 "sanctuary cities bill" into law, with an effective date of Sept. 1, the Houston Chronicle posted an in-depth take on what happened to Arizona after passing an anti-immigrant law seven years ago. It was bad for business and for law enforcement, but it was good for one thing: Getting Latino voters registered and Latino candidates elected. Today, a group of cities is expected to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB 4:

  PHOENIX - Friends and neighbors fled this city's mostly Hispanic southern and western enclaves in droves after the state Legislature approved a set of sweeping anti-immigrant laws in 2010. But Oscar Aguirre wasn't one of them.

  This has been his home for more than 20 years, ever since he and his wife crossed the border illegally. He has two daughters who were born and raised here. A mechanic, he has grown a thriving business.

  So, like many with deep roots in this city that is 40 percent Hispanic, the couple chose instead to make their lives smaller. They stopped calling the police or even accessing public health care, for which their kids qualified. Every time they get in the car they still view it as a game of Russian roulette.

  "If I see the police, I take another route," said Aguirre, 43, as he checked a friend's engine in a mobile home park last week. "The truth is, if the police stop you, it's over. To Mexico, you go."

  Within two years of the legislation, which was almost immediately embroiled in years of litigation, Arizona lost $490 million in tourism revenue as trade groups across the nation canceled scheduled conventions in protest. Agricultural and construction companies struggled to fill jobs...

  The legislation has had a surprisingly bright impact, however, said Ian Danley, executive director of One Arizona, an advocacy coalition. It has helped them register a quarter of a million new Latino voters since 2010, and elect 24 Latinos to the state Legislature and three to the Phoenix City Council.

  Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, seen as the face of anti-immigrant tactics for his use of aggressive workplace raids and what some called over-the-top publicity antics, lost his election last November and is facing a federal trial for defying a judge's order to stop immigration patrols.

  Alejandra Gomez, executive director of the Arizona Center for Empowerment, an advocacy group, called the legislation a "tipping point," suggesting the same might come for Texas.

  Read more:

5) It's bad enough that there is no hope for a minimum wage increase in Texas as the legislative session enters its last two weeks. But that news is even worse knowing that Texans are among the many Americans who are getting cheated out of even the existing minimum wage requirement, according to the Economic Policy Institute:

  In a new report, EPI's David Cooper and Teresa Kroeger estimate that minimum wage violations-failure to pay the legally required minimum wage-cost American workers $15 billion each year. This form of wage theft doesn't just harm workers and their families; it also costs taxpayers money and can hurt state and local economies. The authors find that workers suffering minimum wage violations lose nearly one-quarter of their earned wages-receiving, on average, only $10,500 in annual income if they work a full year. As a result, these workers are more likely to rely on taxpayer-funded public assistance programs and to have less money to spend in their local communities.

  See the report, which also says that while it is less common for workers to be cheated in Texas than in other high-population states, the average victim here is cheated out of more than 30 percent of earned pay: 

6) Television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group are being required to incorporate canned right-wing pieces into their presentation of the news, The New York Times reports.

  Generally, at least one "must-run" is in each newscast and, based on a recent viewing of Sinclair's "Terrorism Alert Desk," I would bet that if you are a discerning consumer of the news, you would pick it out right away. We're not talking about the commonplace gussied-up "sweeps period" stories that have dramatic music, extra-earnest delivery and careful engineering of promo ads to gin up ratings points. We're talking pure propaganda.

  I would be curious if any reader of this newsletter has noticed the phenomenon described in the Times. In Texas, stations owned by Sinclair include KVII-TV in Amarillo, KEYE-TV in Austin, KBTV in Beaumont/Port Arthur, KDBC and KFOX in El Paso, KGBT in the Rio Grande Valley and WOAI-TV in San Antonio.

  This isn't about the Sinclair stations' First Amendment right to broadcast this crap. Of course they can, and Fox News is living testament to a broadcaster's ability to make money on political tilt. But truth in labeling should still count for something:

  They are called "must-runs," and they arrive every day at television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group - short video segments that are centrally produced by the company. Station managers around the country are directed to work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours.

  Since November 2015, Sinclair has ordered its stations to run a daily segment from a "Terrorism Alert Desk" with updates on terrorism-related news around the world. During the election campaign last year, it sent out a package that suggested in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro-slavery. More recently, Sinclair asked stations to run a short segment in which Scott Livingston, the company's vice president for news, accused the national news media of publishing "fake news stories."

  As Sinclair prepares to expand its stable of local TV stations with a proposed acquisition of Tribune Media - which would add 42 stations to Sinclair's 173 - advocacy groups have shown concern about the size and reach the combined company would have. Its stations would reach more than 70 percent of the nation's households, including many of the largest markets.

  Critics of the deal also cite Sinclair's willingness to use its stations to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda. That practice has stirred wariness among some of its journalists concerned about intrusive direction from headquarters.

  That is what has happened in Seattle, a progressive city where Sinclair owns the KOMO broadcast station. In interviews over the past several days, eight current and former KOMO employees described a newsroom where some have chafed at Sinclair's programming directives, especially the must-runs, which they view as too politically tilted and occasionally of poor quality. They also cited features like a daily poll, which they believe sometimes asks leading questions.

  "It is something that's very troubling to our members," said Dave Twedell, a business representative for the union that represents photojournalists at KOMO. "I have not found one of our members who is supportive of our company's position."

  The journalists at KOMO described small acts of rebellion, like airing the segments at times of low viewership or immediately before or after commercial breaks so they blend in with paid spots. They all spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal from the company.

  Read more:

7) Hat tip to Brother DeLane Adams at the Machinists Union for passing along news that a girl in Corpus Christi has made the cover of the union's IAM Journal in the garb of Rosie the Riveter.

  Rose Alviar, daughter of an IAM business rep, wears the outfit well:

  Isabella Rose Alviar, 7, is on the cover of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for the 2017 spring and summer edition.

  Isabella is pictured in a Rosie the Riveter costume that she wore to school on career day, according to the magazine. In the picture, she's doing the iconic Rosie pose.

  Isabella is the grandaughter of Joe Alviar, a business representative.

  Read more about Isabella in the journal, which can be found at

  See the photo:

8) Congratulations to the National Association of Letter Carriers, which has reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the U.S. Postal Service. Workers Independent News passes along the information:

  The National Association of Letter Carriers has reached a tentative new labor agreement with the U.S. Postal Service covering 213,000 active city letter carriers nationwide.

  The union negotiated pay increases, no increases in health care costs and narrowed the pay gaps between city carrier assistants (CCAs) and career letter carriers.

  NALC President Fredric V. Rolando says the union's executive council is recommending that letter carriers ratify the tentative agreement.

  Rolando says the new agreement preserves "the core achievements of our bargaining history, including regular general wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), protections against outsourcing and layoffs, as well as other contractual elements that define our standard of living."

  Letter carriers will now vote on whether or not to ratify the new tentative labor agreement.