Unions’ power play in Texas could signal trouble for other states

Unions’ power play in Texas could signal trouble for other states

BY CHARLES BLAIN, CONTRIBUTOR

Texas isn’t commonly associated with corrupt union bargaining, but the state’s biennial legislature shows how much power public unions wield.

The unions’ formidable hold is in large part a result of a coalition government of Democrats and moderate Republicans who are more than willing to do union bidding. It’s a cautionary tale: “As Texas goes, so goes the nation.” If public-sector unions can obtain such power in the right-to-work, conservative state of Texas, they can do it anywhere.

For many sessions, Texas’s union-backed cohort has held conservative reforms hostage, making Republicans the biggest impediment to their own party’s agenda. This dichotomy leaves many taxpayer-friendly, pro-business reforms hanging in the balance: this includes ending government collection of union dues, reforming public employee pensions in two of the state’s largest cities, overhauling the abusive practice of civil asset forfeiture, and enacting legislation to allow for school choice.

In Texas, unions may not have the benefits that they find in states that aren’t right-to-work, but they can certainly still buy influence and use their tactics to advance their causes.

According to recent campaign information from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, public-sector unions contributed over $1.6 million overall to state lawmakers in Texas during the 2016 election cycle. House Speaker Joe Straus was the second highest recipient of public employee union dollars of any state lawmaker in a Republican legislature, receiving just under $100,000. Though the bulk of it came during the most recent election cycle, Straus has received over $260,000 in union contributions in the last 10 years.

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