Could the Public Union Protests in WI Happen in TX?

The protests in Wisconsin over collective bargaining rights for many public employees would probably never happen here in Texas. David Pitman explains why.

Texas is known as a "right to work" state.  Houston labor attorney Greg Rosenberg says that means...

"You can work for a company that is covered by a collective barganing agreement, regardless whether you're in the union, or not.  You can't be compelled to join a union, and your deciding not to join a union will not have any affect on your employment."

Right-To-Work applies to both private industry and governmental agencies.  Attorney Rosenberg says if Texas lawmakers introduced a bill similar to the one in Wisconsin sharply limiting the bargaining power of most public unions, there likely would not protests in Austin on the scale of what we've seen in Madison.

"In Wisconsin, they're protesting for the right to not to have to deal with the union.  We already have that."

Union representation is not consistent throughout Texas.  Rosenberg says unions are stronger in the southern half, particularly among oil refinery workers near the coast, than it is in the interior of the state.  He says part of the reason is the perception that unions don't adequately represent the workers who pay the dues.

Bio photo of David Pitman

David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...