Gulf Coast Union Delegation Visits Capitol, Demands Protection of Voting Rights

In the latest of a series of labor mobilizations to support voting rights, busloads of union activists from the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation (ALF) visited the Capitol to demand that their representatives and senators stop voter suppression during the special session of the Texas Legislature.

Using Texas AFL-CIO headquarters as a base, the activists representing more than two dozen unions visited legislative offices to bring their voices to the Capitol. The buses filled with union members and retirees left Houston at 6:30 a.m. for a marathon day demonstrating labor’s commitment to access to the polls.

The Houston-area delegation focused heavily on SB 1, but discussed other bills as well, including labor-opposed measures hindering discussion of race relations in classrooms and discriminating against trans-gender students in scholastic sports, as well as labor-backed bills helping retired public school employees and protecting legislative employees from losing their paychecks because of a gubernatorial veto.

“Working Texans know that voting rights are the absolute bedrock of our democracy,” said Hany Khalil, Executive Director of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation. “That’s why we’ve shown up in overwhelming numbers this year to demand an end to GOP attacks on voting rights.”

“We need to be clear about what’s happening - House Democrats are  risking arrest to stop dangerous voter suppression legislation from moving forward. The first job of our legislators is to ensure unfettered access to the ballot box, and that’s what these legislators are doing. We’re here today and every day to stand squarely with the legislators who are standing with and fighting for us.”

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said the delegation’s hands-on commitment to democracy will be repeated during the special session and future meetings of the Legislature.

“It is so important for working people to make their voices heard in this process,” Levy said, “and the best way to do it, even if it’s the hardest way, is to show up. We can’t leave the legislative process to the lobbyists and political professionals. We want the folks who support us to know we have their backs, and for those who don’t, we want them to know we’re here.”

“The Texas AFL-CIO salutes union members from the Gulf Coast who interrupted their work lives so their voices would be heard on matters of fundamental importance to our democracy,” Levy said.

“The visit by ALF follows first-day actions at the Capitol by UNITE HERE, union retirees and other unions pressing pro-worker positions on legislation. And union visits from other parts of Texas will be frequent as we proceed.”