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Bug bites man State Sen. Bill Moore of Bryan was up to his usual tricks on the night of April 22 as he joined his Democratic primary challenger Kent Caperton in a question and answer session before a farm bureau gathering in his home town. In keeping with his campaign strategy to position Caperton as a front man for Texas union forces \(Obs., Moore displayed a copy of some Caperton campaign material and proclaimed that it was printed by another union villain Futura Press in Austin. “Now, Futura Press is owned and operated by the AFL-CIO to help their candidates out,” said Moore. Which is untrue, of course. Futura Press has been independently owned by Bill McAfee since 1962 and although Futura employees are members of the International Typographical Union, the company’s only connection with the AFL-CIO is through its printing of AFL-CIO material. McAfee explained all of this, subsequently, in a letter to Moore. Futura also prints for numerous political candidates of all stripes. But back to our story. When Caperton got to the podium he responded that he didn’t know who owned Futura Press but that whoever did wasn’t giving him any breaks, charging him “an awful lot of money” for printing fees. Besides, said Caperton, “The union bug has appeared on some of the senator’s original campaign material.” He referred to a small stamp used to identify printing from union shops. “That’s not true. That’s wrong,” an indignant Moore stammered from his chair. Caperton said he would stand by his statement. Moore interrupted again, declaring that all his campaign material was printed by a local non-union shop. “If get out of the race and urge everyone to vote for you,” Moore snarled. The next day, the Bryan Daily Eagle reproduced on page one an “I’m for Bill Moore” bumper sticker with an enlargement of a union bug and the caption: “The union label, above, appears on Sen. Moore’s bumper stickers.” The senator’s aides explained that the union-printed material, including Moore campaign buttons, was ordered from a Bryan salesman who ordered them from a union shop. The aide said there was no way that the senator could possibly keep up with all the details of his campaign. “It’s a tempest in a teapot,” the aide grumbled. As for the senator’s offer to resign? “I wouldn’t do that to the people of the fifth district,” Moore told the Eagle. “Sometimes you say things in the heat of battle.” Greg Moses The AFSCME bandwagon State mental health workers, among the most overworked and underpaid employees in Texas, have initiated their own drive to obtain representation by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees tin institutions, the Austin State Hospital, the Austin State School and Travis State School, began about six weeks ago. So far more than 200. workers at each facility have signed up, representing about 10 percent of eligible personnel. Why was it necessary for the employees to try to set up a union instead of a union rep coming in to do it for them? According to AFSCME, it was a matter of limited union resources. “We originally started with the comptroller’s office,” said AFSCME’s Paul Gonzalez. “That’s all we were budgeted for. But little by little the other state agencies are coming in.” AFSCME would give state workers a collective bargaining voice for the first time. The existent Texas Public Employee’s Association is a toothless company organization which includes managerial personnel and provides mostly social/information services. “We’re dealing with hard core political issues fective with,” Gonzalez said. AFSCME already has 16,000 city and county worker members in Texas and hopes to capture 169,000 state employees through organizational efforts. AFSCME’s initial wedge into the state bureaucracy was figured to be the comptroller’s office, where State Comptroller Bob Bullock gave the green light to his own workers. Bullock also has asked Atty. Gen. Mark White for a ruling that would allow a dues check-off system from the state payroll. Bullock, whose pro-worker endorsement is causing many upper level bureaucrats to blanche, hopes the union can begin check-offs in his department by June 1. About 300 of his employees have signed up so far. Comptroller’s office employees may prove the most strategic union target, but mental health workers are in the most need of collective bargaining assistance, as evidenced by their desperate attempt not to be overlooked by AFSCME. Two years ago, union research showed that mental health workers are among the lowest paid by the state. Patricia Coburn, an LVN at Austin State Hospital, said workers with up to a high school education take home as little as $470 per month performing hard physical labor in the laundry and kitchens. “But a lot of time it isn’t the money that matters,” Coburn said. “The pay would be fine if they could have a little human dignity. It’s difficult to feed a family, pay the rent, buy gas and feel Journal THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11