Texas joins national protests

FORT WORTH, Tex. – Since Mid-February, there has been a protest somewhere in Texas almost every day. As the Republican-dominated State Legislature begins churning out anti-worker legislation, the pace is quickening. Fort Worth Representative Lon Burnam called his constituents to make the four-hour drive to Austin for a budget vote scheduled for Friday, April 1. They packed the galleries and rallied outside.

The next day in Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth, Burnam spoke to a crowd of around 400, largely union people, assembled after a call from the Tarrant County AFL-CIO. T.C. Gillespie, leader of the Central Labor Council, Bob Martinez, regional director for the Machinists Union, leading political figures, and leaders of educational associations were also on the podium. Many of the participants had seen one another only one week earlier during the annual Fort Worth Cesar Chavez birthday parade.

The much-feared budget did not pass the Texas House on April 1 and was re-scheduled for a Sunday, April 3, session in Austin. The Dallas newspaper said that protesters were “…confronting a proposed budget that could cause 335,000 to lose jobs; prompt layoffs for 96,000 teachers and school aides; close half the state’s nursing homes; shutter seven state parks; and eliminate college scholarships to 60,000 students.” Those are only some of the highlights.

A rally for the rights of sanitation workers is scheduled for the evening of April 4 at City Hall in nearby Dallas. It is particularly appropriate to show solidarity with these minimum-wage employees on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. King was in Memphis lending support to sanitation workers’ who were on strike in 1968 days before he was killed.

Even though most of the nation expects its peak protests on April 4, Texas had already scheduled its major effort for Wednesday, April 6, at the State Capitol. Fort Worth will send at least three buses: one from Communications Workers Local 6201 and two from the Texas State Employees’ Union. Dallas has at least 8 buses scheduled: Three from the State Workers, two from Communications Workers Local 6215, two from the Texas Organizing Project, and one from Teamsters Local 745. Texas workers are still signing up to go at: www.cwa-tseu.org

Photo: Even in Texas class consciousness is growing, activists note. By Jim Lane/PW.