Fort Worth Representative Lon Burnam called his constituents to make the four-hour drive to Austin for a budget vote scheduled for Friday, April 1st. They packed the galleries and rallied with a bunch of coffins outside.
The next day in Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth, Burnam joined a big roster of speakers in Burnett Park. About 400 activists gathered to hear Tarrant County AFL-CIO leader T.C. Gillespie, other labor leaders, political leaders, and education leaders. The Tarrant County Democrats co-sponsored the event and had a number of tables to increase awareness of critical elections coming up.
The draconian cuts projected in the Texas House did not happen on April 1 as expected. They 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." It's actually a lot worse than that. Ed Sills, Communications Director for the Texas AFL-CIO said he expects the final budget to be, "a swine among chupacabras (mythical creatures who suck goats' blood)."
Mary Foley and I are joking, "We have to quit meeting like this," because we had seen one another the previous week at the Cesar Chavez parade in downtown Fort Worth and the week before that at one of several big rallies in Austin sponsored by teachers and other school workers. Her April 2 sign said, "I can't believe I'm still protesting this crap!"
Kenneth Stretcher was also in the Ft Worth crowd. He is hoping to bring people to another rally on Monday evening, April 4, at Dallas City Hall, Young & Ervay. Stretcher will bring the sanitation workers he's organizing. It is particularly appropriate to show solidarity with these minimum-wage employees on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's assassination during the Memphis sanitation workers' strike of 1968.
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 Comunications Workers Local 6215, two from the Texas Organizing Project, and one from Teamsters Local 745. Texas workers are still signing up with the State Workers, who have the most buses.
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