Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy issued this statement on completion of the third, and we hope final, special session of the Texas Legislature:
“They didn’t quite stay until Halloween, but after 10 months and more than 220 days in session, Texas lawmakers left working families in a scarier place.”
“The biggest immediate problems this Legislature could have addressed effectively included lack of access to health care (worst in the nation), an energy grid that failed us at the most critical moment, and a pandemic that has killed nearly 70,000 Texans to date.”
“The priorities we got instead dodge real problems and attack phantoms: voter suppression bills that undermine democracy; shuffling the bureaucratic deck on energy regulation while letting energy profiteers off the hook; an attack on transgender children over an alleged scholastic sports issue that has never surfaced in Texas; “critical race theory” bills that censor educators and have already led to book-banning and worse; and looking the other way while the Governor used the disaster powers of his office to actually prevent local officials and private workplaces from taking the most effective steps to keep us safe in the pandemic.”
“On the immediate front, we are disappointed the Legislature allocated more than $16 billion in federal COVID relief funds without recognizing the pandemic risks taken by state employees through premium pay. Texas needs to be a better employer. Employee turnover resulting from long years without general pay raises poses a long-term risk to our state, and dropping premium pay only put the message being sent into boldface.”
“On top of all that, lawmakers passed illegitimate redistricting bills that keep very much alive a legacy of discrimination that undermines Latino, Black and Asian-American voting power. If the courts let these maps stand, no doubt the GOP will have a head start this decade. But no one should confuse political maps with political inevitability. Our state is changing. It’s time now to fight harder than ever at the polls for a better Texas. We promise the Texas AFL-CIO will be in the vanguard of that fight.”
The Texas AFL-CIO is the state labor federation consisting of 240,000 affiliated union members who advocate for working families in Texas.