The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation Weekly Report comes out (nearly) every Thursday with news and updates relevant to the Gulf Coast labor movement. To subscribe, click here.

Gulf Coast Unions Respond to Abbott’s Renewed Attack on Voting Rights in Special Session

Governor Greg Abbott released his list of priorities for the special session starting yesterday — and voter suppression is at the very top. In response, Gulf Coast unions are mobilizing for a lobby day next Tuesday, July 13th in Austin. Union members will go to the state Capitol to speak to legislators and tell them to say no to Jim Crow 2.0.

Join us — bit.lyGulfCoastLobbyDay

Read more about the special session

Galveston County Unions Condemn Reckless Spending on Border Wall Boondoggle

Unions representing thousands of workers in Galveston County spoke out this week against the decision by Galveston County Judge Mark Henry and county commissioners to recklessly re-allocate critical public health and workforce development funding to Governor Abbott’s border wall project.

Galveston Labor Assembly President Rick Lord said, “We’re all working hard to get Galveston County back to work, and President Biden’s American Rescue Plan is absolutely critical to our recovery. Instead of using the more than $60 million we’ve received to help get folks back to work safely, Judge Henry and the commissioners are playing politics. They’re taking money right out of our pockets. It’s shameful.”

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Harris County Unions Lead Effort to Keep Nearly 600 Working People in Greenspoint Housed

Last week, members from Iupat District Council 88, IATSE Local 51 and IATSE 896, Houston Federation of Teachers, OPEIU Local #129, and HOPE Local 123 (Houston Organization of Public Employees) helped connect nearly 600 working people at immediate risk of eviction with assistance to keep them in their homes.

Union members know when working people win, we all win, and we’re always ready to step up and help our neighbors in need.

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IATSE Members Speak Out Against Abbott’s Decision to Reject Unemployment Aid from Biden Administration

Mark Grady, an IATSE Local 51 stage electrician for the Houston Grand Opera, has essentially been out of a job and relied on unemployment benefits since March 2020.

“The unemployment going away at this time for us, it’s brutal,” Grady said. “It’s right when we needed it.”

July and August are the performing arts industry’s slowest months in Houston, Grady said, and while work is expected to come back strong in the fall, there are almost no jobs for Houston stage workers this summer.

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AFGE Members Call for Well-earned Pay Raise for Federal Employees

Federal employees have been through the wringer these past few years. Despite staffing shortages that have endangered their lives, forced relocations that have disrupted their lives at work and at home and even attempts to abolish the agencies where they work, federal employees have persevered and demonstrated their commitment to the country time and time again.

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Abbott Releases List of Toxic Topics for Special Legislative Session Focused on Voter Suppression

Instead of focusing on real problems, Abbott is prioritizing more culture war nonsense and a renewed assault on our right to vote.

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Texas AFL-CIO Leads Lawsuit Challenging Governor Abbott’s Defunding of Legislative Staff Salaries

Last month, Governor Abbott vetoed funding for the Texas legislature, a dangerous move that puts at risk the independence of our representatives. If this is allowed to stand, Abbott would be able to defund the legislature whenever he disagrees with them, and risk the livelihoods of thousands of workers in the legislature.

In response, the Texas AFL-CIO, joined by more than 60 legislators and caucuses representing Black and Latino lawmakers, filed a lawsuit with the Texas Supreme Court challenging Abbott’s line-item veto for violating the Texas Constitution.

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Abbott’s threat to veto funding for legislative branch is alarming example of overreach

Abbott has effectively engineered a hostage crisis, affecting more than two thousand men and women who work as staffers for legislators of both parties. These state employees — ranging from policy experts and analysts at the Legislative Budget Board to support staff at the Capitol complex — face an uncertain future come September if the situation isn’t resolved.

And even if you can’t sympathize with the plight of those public servants, there’s a principle at stake here, as two former Texas House speakers — Republican Joe Straus and Democrat Pete Laney — as well as former Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff point out in an amicus brief opposing Abbott’s veto.

The former legislative leaders describe the move as “an attempt to intimidate members of the Legislature and circumvent democracy.”

“This action should be rebuked by people of all political persuasions,” they continue.

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Biden Order Aims to Tilt the Job Market Toward Workers

This week, the White House is planning to release an executive order focused on competition policy. People familiar with the order say one section has several provisions aimed at increasing competition in the labor market.

The order will encourage the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit noncompete agreements, which employers have increasingly used in recent years to try to hamper workers’ ability to quit for a better job.

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Colorado Legislature Passes Law Empowering Farm Workers

SB21–087 will allow agriculture workers to join unions, get paid at least minimum wage, and be eligible for overtime pay. It also requires employers to provide their workers with certain health and safety protections and restricts the use of the short-handled hoe — California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have banned its use. And it provides protections for whistleblowers and agricultural workers who want to sue over working conditions

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OSHA Covid-19 Rule Intended to Cover All Workers, Draft Shows

Last month, OSHA released COVID-19 rules that were limited to health care workers. But the 780-page draft standard and justification formally submitted to the White House on April 26 made it clear Occupational Safety and Health Administration staff had concluded a “grave danger” threatened the health of all U.S. workers, not just workers in health care who had been deemed essential during the darkest days of the pandemic.

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Traveling Halfway Across U.S., Striking Massachusetts Nurses Bring Fight to Dallas

Marlena Pelligrino has worked at Saint Vincent Hospital in Massachusetts for more than three decades. But in recent years, she and her colleagues have been fighting for better working conditions.

On strike for more than 120 days now, Pelligrino and her fellow nurses decided to travel halfway across the country and take the fight to their employer’s front door on Thursday.

Throughout the day, dozens of nurses rallied outside the headquarters of Tenet Healthcare, a Dallas-based for-profit company. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) has been locked in battle with Tenet Healthcare executives for more than two years.

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Get Vaccinated!

Everyone age 12 and older, regardless of occupation or health status, is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas, according to state authorities. You can find the full list of Texas vaccine providers here. You do not need to be a resident of a county or city to register.

Sites in Harris County and across the region no longer required advance registration.

To find more information about vaccination sites, click on the links below (this is not a complete list of all vaccine providers)

If you’re ready to do whatever it takes to protect Texas’ right to vote, we need you with us in Austin on Tuesday, July 13th for the Gulf Coast Lobby Day.

We’re sending two buses full of union members from the Gulf Coast to send a clear message to Abbott and his allies — stop trying to resurrect Jim Crow and take away our right to vote!

RSVP

Official account of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation.