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The Lot of Labor New Left-type disgust with the union movement because, for example, of its loyalty to President Johnson and its early support of Humphrey has obscured, in the felt priorities on the American left, the necessity of unions for workers. This necessity is apparent in Texas, basically a nonunion state. The Texas Industrial Commission advertises its state-financed publications in the New York Times. By writing the agency in response to one such ad late in 1968, the Observer obtained through the mail a kit entitled, “Texas plant location facts,” which included the pamphlet, “State Taxes and Finances; Labor Laws.” Here is how Official Texas officially describes Texas to businessmen considering the state as a place for business: “The closed shop, the union shop, and maintenance of membership provisions in labor contracts are illegal. “The Texas check-off law provides that the employer can make no deduction for labor union dues or assessments without the written authorization of the employee. “Strikes or picketing for recognition or bargaining are prohibited unless the union in fact represents a majority of the employees .. . “Mass picketing is illegal .. . “Labor unions are liable to Texas’ antitrust laws, both civil and criminal .. . “No public official and no unit of Texas government municipal, county, or state can recognize a labor organization as the bargaining agent for any group of public employees, nor can they enter into a collective bargaining contract with a union for any group of public employees .. . “Texas has no laws covering minimum wages in industry, maximum hours for male workers 17 years or over, or overtime rates in industry. “These has no law requiring wages in lieu of notice of separation .. . “Texas has no state labor relations act, wage-hour law, or anti-injunction act similar to such federal statutes.” The “Texas brags” of the Texas Industrial Commission extend also to unemployment compensation: “No other major manufacturing state offers so many economies in unemployment compensation taxes as does Texas. Reasons which explain this advantage: .. . “Program administrators are strict in denying benefits to workers discharged for acts of dishonesty and intentional violations of company rules, or who quit jobs without good cause connected with the work. “The Texas Employment Commission considers its primary function to find jobs, not to pay benefits . . . “Unemployment taxes in Texas are third lowest in the nation.” 4 The Texas Observer Texas is the last of the ten largest states without a minimum wage law. SEN. RALPH Yarborough, chairman of the Seante labor and public welfare committee, piloted through the major reform and expansion of the federal minimum wage law in 1966. In 1967 he addressed the Texas Legislature in joint session, and he said to them: “Local conditions can be covered only by state minimum wage laws. Thirty-seven states have minimum wage laws. All of the industrial states have minimum wage laws, except Texas … Recently a Belden Poll showed that an overwhelming majority of the people of Texas want a state minimum wage law. . . . “Our investigations showed that some laundries in Texas were paying 33.3 cents, 40 cents, 42 1/2 cents, 45 cents, 471/2 cents, 50 cents, or 70 cents per hour, to women working in them. Why should any man object to paying a nickel more for having his shirt laundered in order to let those women draw the minimum wage?” 19 There is a chance for a minimum wage law this session. Gov . Preston Smith favors it. “I don’t think there are any of us opposed,” he said. 20 The one problem he foresaw was including farm workers. Roy Evans, state AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, says Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes has “indicated he will” support a minimum wage, and Evans understands that the bill as tentatively approved by Gov. Smith included farmers with more than three employees. 2 I Present federal law sets the cut-off point on farm minimums at seven employees. The maximum weekly benefit in Texas for injured workers is $35. No state in the union has a lower maximum. Only Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi have maximums that low. 22 The unions, the manufacturers, and the trial lawyers have struck an uneasy agreement to raise benefits 40%, with a resulting increase in the cost to employers of 18%. There is a general idea that workmen’s compensation is a part of the social system. In Texas, it is voluntary with employers. Of the approximately 94,000 places of employment in the state, only one-third carry workmen’s insurance. 23 It should be made compulsory, but clearly this is out of the question in this year’s legislative context. In 1967 the Legislature increased the Texas unemployment insurance weekly maximum to $45. Only 16 states had lower maximums. 24 Smith has appointed a new Texas Employment Commission member, and the unions are now “in negotiation” on this subject. Jobless benefits should be at least the 50% of average earnings the law provided when the program was established a quarter of a century ago. The laws against union security pro visions should be repealed and replaced with an authorization of the agency shop, permitting the withholding of union dues from salaries if a majority of the employees vote for the union, but not requiring union membership. A state labor agency should be created, incorporating the bureau of labor statistics. Wages on state and local public projects are set according to the “prevailing wage” declared by state or local agencies. Public agencies should be required to pay union scale wages. THERE ARE less obvious, but more important consequences of Texas being anti-union. When you apply for a job at many Texas places, you are required to take a lie detector test to prove you’re not a thief. There is no civil service for state employees, so they have no protections against bureaucratic tyrannies. Public school teachers have no tenure protections. About 100,000 Texans hit the migrant trail every year, in large part because wages are so low at home. The state has failed to establish standards of safe transportation and more healthful transient housing for them. The Legislature doesn’t seem to care about them. Farm workers are chronically underpaid, and a minimum wage law does not correct this sufficiently because the essential problem of farm work is its seasonal character. Unemployment compensation should be extended to farm workers, who are not now covered by it. A report of the Texas Education Agency to Governor Connally, in August, 1968, indicated that a minimum of 327,195 disabled. Texans are in immediate need of vocational rehabilitation services. At the time, only 33,000 people were “on the caseloads” of the state’s worker rehab division, causing the official conclusion that “only one disabled person in ten was having his needs met.” A federal study showed in 1967 that Texas ranks 44th among the states in state fund spending per capita for vocational rehabilitation. 2 5 For many years, the Legislature refused to enact an industrial safety law, although the figures showed about 200,000 people were hurt or sickened on the job a year and annual job-related deaths totaled about 1,000, the highest accident rates of any industrial state in the union. In 1967, a law was passed creating an occupational safety board in the State Health Department and authorizing the establishment of state job safety standards. Eighteen months have passed, and not a single safety standard has yet been adopted. Walter Martin, director of the program, tells the Observer, “There are no rules yet. We are moving much faster than any other state. It seems long, but actually it isn’t.” In .Florida, he says, “14 standards have