April 6 is our main target date. The Texas Forward coalition joined the Texas State Employees Union for a rally and lobby day at the Capitol. Leading up to it are several important but more narrow local and statewide events, but April 6 has to be our main focus.
National Jobs with Justice reports that there are over 500 anti-union bills pending in state legislatures. Anti-worker legislators in Texas are working to cripple our right to vote, our ability to participate in politics, our ability to organize, and even our protections under federal law. The AFL-CIO includes anti-immigrant bills right along with bills aimed against other workers, and so do we!
Most of the anti-worker bills are disguised, as they were in Wisconsin, as a response to the budget crisis. The Wisconsin governor eventually gave up the disguise and rammed the anti-union legislation through without any budgetary excuses at all! He proved that they were never serious about solving the economic crisis, but are using it instead to attack the rights and living standards of America's workers.
TSEU is offering tickets for the bus ride and lunch for only $15. Contact organizer Seth Hutchinson in Dallas at 214-942-4305, or contact the state office at 512-448-4225. They plan to offer tickets right up to the 6 AM departure on April 6. Different departure sites are already being planned. One of them will be at UAW 848, 2218 E Main in Grand Prairie.
Since mid-February, hundreds of demonstrations and picket lines have taken place across the nation. The Dallas Teachers organized at least 14 buses for their lobby day and rally on March 14. Texas AFL-CIO Communications Director Ed Sills reported that 10,000 school employees and their supporters, including most Texas unions, came to the Capitol. Two days earlier, an estimated 12,000 had rallied to Save our Schools. The main demand is for a balanced approach to the state deficit rather than draconian layoffs.
Hand-made signs and the speakers on April 14th clearly held Governor Rick Perry accountable for the problem. Under his leadership, the legislature had deliberately created the big budget shortfall by cutting taxes in 2006. Perry keeps a tight hold on reservoirs of funds that could be used to prevent layoffs, but has intractably refused to help. The so-called "rainy day" fund alone has more than $9.4 billion in it. Rallygoers carried umbrellas to remind the legislature that rainy days are already here.
Although the AFT called and organized the March 14 event, unionists from most of the state's unions attended. One of the most dynamic speakers was Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller, who called on the entire union movement to stand as strong in Texas as they are in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana. She closed by leading the chant, "We are one!"
AFT National President Randi Weingarten said that nobody in Texas bore the primary blame for the crisis. She said it was created in her home state, New York, and specifically on one street, Wall Street!
Even the school children in local neighborhoods are organizing public events, and everyone has an opportunity to participate. Several statewide and local events will happen before April 6, but it will be the most broadly supported. North Texas Jobs with Justice is focusing on April 6 with our web page, www.labordallas.org, and radio show at 7 AM every Monday on KNON FM89.3 or www.knon.org.
The Texas AFL-CIO says there are more photos at http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=271973&id=122300848805