A statewide public sector union confirmed what the Wall Street Journal reported near the end of the legislative session: Speaker Joe Straus and State Rep. Byron Cook “led the effort” to kill a bill ending the government’s practice of collecting dues on behalf of labor unions. Now, that same union will be spending its time during the beginning of early voting protecting “their friend” Cook at the polls.
In a memo sent out to its members, Texas State Association of Firefighters notes Cook’s close association to Speaker Straus and his effort to kill SB 1968, which would have ended the government’s practice of automatically deducting (and then remitting) union dues from public-sector employee paychecks. Ironically, the bill exempted law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical services, which would have left TSAFF dues collection unchanged.
Senate Bill 1968 was the top legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas. After the bill died in his committee, Cook made a number of excuses for why he could not advance the legislation. After the session, Straus blamed the Republican Party and attacked the party’s efforts advocating for the bill.
Voters can expect to find TSAFF members working to protect their “friend” at the Navarro County, Hill County, and Anderson County courthouse today and tomorrow.
If a union such as TSAFF can’t afford to lose Cook, can taxpayers really afford to keep him?
Text of the memo:
Attention all TSAFF Members:
State Representative Byron Cook is Chairman of the powerful State Affairs Committee and is closely aligned with Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Last session, our friend Byron Cook led the effort that stopped further consideration of the bill that would have ended payroll deduction of union dues. We fully expect that a similar bill to end payroll deduction of union dues will be filed in the next legislative session. Representative Cook has shown his willingness to support fire fighters and has proven his commitment to our issues. In the March Primary he faces a well-funded Tea Party challenger. This race has been identified as a key race by the TSAFF. We cannot afford to lose a friend like State Representative Bryon Cook[sic].