This Labor Day let’s vow to continue to fight for what matters
For years well-meaning folks have counseled me that we’ve needed to strengthen state Civil Service in statute and clean up issues inside the Collective Bargaining and Meet and Confer laws. During my time advocating for law enforcement labor I have always reminded them of the danger of taking an issue like that to the floor of the Texas state legislature where enemies of working people are plentiful and our friends are often weak and conflicted on our issues. Now more than ever is the time to be mindful not to buy into everything you hear touted as a solution lest we wind up being the catalyst for actually losing rights. We must avoid the deadly, but feel-good political sin of vengefulness. This is not the climate for the triple reverse play. Also, this is not the time or the climate to buy into political cuteness. There is no easy button for law enforcement labor in Texas.
Friends, all it would take would be one well-placed amendment and we could lose all your rights. Just because people who see themselves as smart and powerful doesn’t mean they can’t be outmaneuvered on the floor or have had ulterior political motives from the outset. Population brackets and other superficial trickery isn’t something we can buy into, publicly or privately when the stakes are so large and the outcome so unpredictable.
Do not believe the happy talk of those who have long pushed against us on labor issues that have created all the job protections and working conditions that currently exist.
Last legislative session it wasn’t just Democrats voting to strip away Class C arrest authority or push through sneaky bills aimed at making your General Employment File public. There were many Republicans voting the same way but for different reasons. Democrats voting against police authority because of perceived racial and social issues and Republicans voting to lessen police power but also voting against your labor and employment rights. I’ve watched the game films over and over. I’ve re-read the vote totals. I’ve watched the applause from the dais. It’s all real.
A few days ago we all saw the Governor, Lt. Governor, current Speaker, and several Fort Worth Republicans declare that if Texas cities defund their police departments they will have their tax rates frozen. Since that time the Governor has also said he’ll carve out the Austin Police Department and create a special division of DPS just for the Capital city.
Now as your faithful servant and soldier for the last 26 years at CLEAT—I’ve also been a long term, vocal anti-fan of Austin Mayor Steve Adler. Believe me, no shrill, empty political suit ever deserved to feel the Governor’s blast more than he. Hey, back in the day I begged folks not to endorse him during his first run for office. Not because I felt omnipotent but my experience from the political side made me believe that he would NOT be a good leader for Austin. Our paths had crossed in the Capitol. I felt that whatever slight wind blew through the liberal wing of the Democratic Party would definitely blow him off course and lead him away from the working men and women of law enforcement or working people of any kind. But, I certainly understood when folks said he had a mountain of money and was dominating in the polls. So, I did not drink the Kool-Aid and I suffered through the eye-rolling of my Democratic friends who thought they had found a candidate who could not be defeated. I’m used to being the person in the room warning folks of unseen political sharp objects and I always hope I’m wrong.
So, since I never trusted Steve Adler and I never thought for a second he would have a nanogram of true grit or leadership AND I disagreed 100% with his anti-police policies, then why didn’t I enjoy his public tail whipping more? Did he not deserve it? Oh, no he deserved it and I think he needs to be removed from office today for maleficence. His inability to do anything but pander to the police haters means he was never fit for the difficult tasks of actual governing. I believe a real leader of any stripe would have simply stood and countered the police-hate activists and absolutely moved the debate toward less angry, less punitive, and a more policy-driven outcome. So, this moment of mental revenge should have had me shouting for joy. Why didn’t it?
Because I don’t believe for one second that the other folks are really on your side either. I’ve dealt with them for years. Snake oil salesmen from the Texas Public Policy Foundation who’ve suddenly been saved and sanctified to protect your rights? Not likely.
What if the real fight is simply about who’s in charge? (Please pause here and count to ten and let it sink in. It’s ok to hate on the messenger.)
Think about it, if you come out on the other side of all this social and political upheaval with no employment rights…neither side cares. Not one damn bit.
The Republican’s own Texas Public Policy Foundation said on the record in Capitol hearings that they believe stripping your right to have your union lawyer deducted from your paycheck “is a good start.” Under further questioning, they opened up against civil service, collective bargaining, and all employment rights for law enforcement. I was in the room. It’s recorded.
The left-wing stood up in hearings OPPOSING the Austin Police Association’s contract and even local labor unions came out asking the Austin City Council to go back on an already agreed-to deal. Democrats and other labor unions stood up in public and asked for elected officials to invalidate a labor contract for working cops.
If the legislature has an oops moment in 2021 and all your employment rights become collateral damage, neither political party will weep. If both parties voted to ban your discretion on Class C arrests and making your General Employment File public (both those items were ultimately defeated by a technical, not by a majority vote) then you cannot place your trust in either side’s easy buttons that they offer.
What to do? We have a strategy to make sure our fights are about your working conditions and not about the silliness. We will work door to door in the legislature to make sure your labor rights are protected. You know you can trust CLEAT. You also know can trust me. I believe you deserve your paycheck. Your family deserves to be taken care of if you are killed in the line of duty. You deserve the retirement that you have earned when your tour of duty is completed.
I ask that you consider joining CLEAT PAC today and help us fight for the things you’ve earned.
I personally met and worked around those original founders of CLEAT. Their sacrifices to build a better union in Texas play as the soundtrack in my mind every day. We cannot stop fighting and we must not fail. Happy Labor Day!
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