Senate Attack on Local Workplace Benefits Is Nearly Complete, With Texas House on Deck

The Texas Senate today advanced SBs 2486 and 2488, two more bills that would prevent cities from improving workplace benefits.

Both bills are by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who authored two related bills that passed the Senate last Thursday. SB 2486 bars local governments from approving rules on scheduling practices. The problem: Some companies do not notify workers of their schedules enough in advance to allow them to plan their lives. An amendment to the bill by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, also bars local rules with regard to overtime.

SB 2488 would kill fair-chance hiring ordinances that postpone the moment when prospective employers may consider an applicant's criminal record. The ordinances, one of which exists in Austin, do not require employers to make a hire.

The earlier bills, SBs 2485 and 2487, cancel an array of benefits and paid sick leave ordinances, respectively.

The United Labor Legislative Committee OPPOSES all the bills, which are derived from SB 15. SB 15, a death-star bill covering all benefits, was unable to get enough traction to be considered for floor debate in the Senate. 

If all this sounds like procedural mumbo-jumbo, remember this: The four bills approved by the Texas Senate would take away earned paid sick leave, construction worker rest breaks in 100-degree weather, fair-chance hiring, non-discrimination ordinances and any other local improvement to worker benefits that might be contemplated in the future.

Opponents, including major high-tech businesses, say the measures could subject Texas to boycotts over the prospective damage to non-discrimination ordinances. Any way you look at it, today's Senate action is a slap in the face of local voters and Texans who have expressed an overwhelming will to take the high road on employment issues, rather than the low road that has been protected through inaction by the Texas Legislature.

All four bills will soon face consideration in the Texas House, where workers can only hope the real ramifications of taking away local voters' voices are better appreciated.