Texas AFL-CIO Broadens Legislative Agenda

Focus on Fair Shot for Working Families

The Texas AFL-CIO launched a Fair Shot legislative agenda that includes both perennial wage and benefit topics and cutting-edge issues that affect a broad spectrum of working families in Texas.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said the Fair Shot agenda recognizes that accelerating change in workplaces demands a labor platform that enters new arenas. He said the 2018 elections signaled momentum for improving workers’ lives.

“Texas workers are demanding a fair shot at better lives. We must change rules that make the world of work worse for far too many working families,” Levy said. “Our Fair Shot agenda aims, over the near and longer term, to level the playing field for all working people.”

Levy noted the agenda reflects the traditional core values of the labor movement, including such subjects as: raising the minimum wage; raising public employee pay; improving access to health care; advancing registered apprenticeships; improving rules for immigrant workers; combatting sexual harassment and other behaviors that harm women in the workplace; expanding voting rights; more funding for public schools; and protection for the right of working people to speak up together. 

The agenda also places new emphasis on topics put forward by union members that have not traditionally drawn a focus from the Texas AFL-CIO at the Legislature. These include: criminal justice reform, especially ending situations in which minor offenses produce financial penalties that are way out of proportion to a crime; reducing student debt burdens; and a clear-eyed look at how technological advances and other factors are changing the very nature of work itself.

“With regard to the future of work, the Texas labor movement believes long-standing worker goals that have stood the test of time still apply in completely new situations,” Levy said. “The rigged rules of yesterday cannot become the rigged rules of tomorrow.”

Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay said the state labor federation will tighten alliances with other progressive organizations in the continuing battle to improve the lives of immigrant workers.

“The demographics of the labor movement are changing along with the demographics of Texas,” said Garibay, a naturalized citizen. “We cannot tolerate laws that turn immigrant workers into a sub-class that can be exploited but cannot speak up. How we treat immigrant workers sets the standard for all workers.”

Levy and Garibay were joined by five workers who spoke about elements of the agenda: Sam Marshall, a retired member of Education Austin; Joe Hernandez, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 520; Sarah Ruzicka, a state correctional officer and member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; and Iris Leija, a member of UNITE HERE Local 23.

The United Labor Legislative Committee, which is the lobbying arm of the Texas AFL-CIO, will apply the Fair Shot agenda when considering positions on bills, Levy said.

“The top-line question we will ask on every bill is whether it advances a fair shot for working families,” Levy said. “Many bills will fall outside that test altogether. We will be laser-focused on supporting the bills that advance working families and opposing the ones that set us back.”

Click Here: Texas AFL-CIO Fair Shot Agenda