More than 20 unions unanimously oppose all four amendments proposed by controversial group
Proposal will take power away from elected council members
CLC President: "We oppose these charter amendments because they aren't genuine democratic reforms; each is part of a strategy designed by a small group of people to concentrate power into fewer hands"
Austin, TX — The Austin Central Labor Council, which represents over 20 labor unions of working people in the City of Austin, has voted unanimously to oppose all four proposals put forward by the so-called "Austinites for Progressive Reform."
If passed, the proposal would eliminate the city manager position and give the mayor control of the administration as well as a veto over ordinances passed by Austin City Council, creating additional barriers to making change for working people in Austin.
"For a century labor unions have organized, block walked, and held powerful interests accountable to create a more democratic, free, and just world for all working people," said Jason Lopez, President of the Austin Central Labor Council. "We oppose these charter amendments because they aren't genuine democratic reform; each is part of a strategy designed by a small group of people to concentrate power into fewer hands at a time when wealthy elites are flocking to our city."
Krissy O'Brien, AFSCME Local 1624 Organizer: "Under 10-1, we have raised the living wage for full time and temporary employees, maximized the Family First Coronavirus Response Act so employees feel safer on the job, created a civil rights office and worked to establish a fair and impartial investigative process for employees experiencing discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. We made these significant gains for working people because of the current balance of power on city council and our ability to hold each one of them accountable. A consolidation of power within the Office of Mayor stands to weaken our progress and hinder our representative democracy."
"Austinites for Progressive Reform tell us that their reforms will be better for workers, black and brown people, and those concerned with criminal justice. Yet labor organizations, representatives for the Eastern Crescent of Austin, and criminal justice advocates strongly oppose Strong Mayor. I know I will be on the side of those doing the work." says Selena Xie, President of Austin EMS Association.
"It took decades for the people of Austin to pass a representational city government that empowers people of color, lifts up voters in every corner of our city, and put an end to a system built on racism with the passage of 10-1. Community leaders worked hard to develop a truly democratic local government, but sadly a handful of wealthy elites are working hard and spending big money during a pandemic to reverse this progress and concentrate power in the hands of a strong mayor. We must not let Austin move backwards in service to the rich and powerful, so Labor Unions and other progressive organizations are standing strong against this veiled attempt to consolidate power and silence communities of color and essential workers," said Jeremy Hendricks, a leader with the Laborers' Union of North America (LiUNA) .
"Our union has been on the front lines of expanding democratic rights alongside low-income communities of color for decades, most recently in our work during the historic U.S. Senate races in Georgia," said UNITE HERE Local 23 Secretary Treasurer Willy Gonzalez. "These misleading proposals are designed to give cover to a controversial organization and its real purpose: taking power away from voters and our elected council, and putting it in the hands of fewer people. We cannot go back to the days where a handful of people in Austin call the shots."