Texas’ war on labor

Jake Mireles, Opinion Editor

In Texas, where the sweltering and unpredictable climate can make even the most menial jobs extremely intense — and even dangerous — common labor rights often taken for granted may soon meet the chopping block. According to the Texas Tribune, House Bill 2172 and Senate Bill 814 — pioneered by Republican legislators and supported by Governor Greg Abbott — would significantly impact local government’s ability to regulate labor. 

These bills, if passed, would make it so that local governments cannot levy labor-related ordinances that require more employee accommodations than what is mandated by the state. The bills would also nullify any existing local ordinances that act to strengthen employee labor rights as well. 

Texas is already one of the worst states when it comes to labor rights and protection. According to KUT 90.5, Texas has no state-mandated accommodations for pregnant employees, breastfeeding employees or paid leave. Additionally, Texas does not guarantee protection for outdoor workers from the heat, and ordinances relating to mandatory water and shade breaks are more often implemented at the local or municipal level. 

The Republican Party of Texas is conducting a blatant and insidious war on the rights of laborers.

Additionally, as a right-to-work state, Texas hinders the ability of employees to organize and form unions. “Right-to-work” laws “prohibits unions from collecting dues from the people who benefit from their activities.” These policies make organizing in the workplace extremely difficult, as it drives up the dues for existing union members, discouraging them from taking collective action.  

The Republican Party of Texas is conducting a blatant and insidious war on the rights of laborers. While it may be conducted on the misleading premise of protecting small businesses and further strengthening the already booming state economy, there is one party that will always come out on the bottom if these bills pass — the workers. Economic prosperity cannot be achieved by attacking and weakening those at the bottom while enriching and expanding the power of those at the top. Our focus should be on strengthening the foundations of our society, and one foundation will always be its laborers.