By Jim Lane
Fourteen of the biggest Texas cities reported to the state AFL-CIO that they would hold Labor Day events this year, even though it is considered an off-election year. Most cities had picnics. Austin had a fish fry. San Antonio held a reception. El Paso, Houston, and Dallas each held two events during the weekend. El Paso and Houston had special Catholic Masses on August 31. The Dallas AFL-CIO held a Labor Day breakfast, and the Democratic Party held their own fiesta in historic Fair Park that afternoon.
Two major concerns dominated all Texas Labor Day meetings: the redistricting fight and Proposition 12 on the September 13 ballot. Both problems stem from right-wing efforts to grab more power for themselves while diminishing the working class in Texas. Eleven Texas Senators, who were the heroes of all the Labor Day events, spent their holiday in nearby New Mexico. If they returned to their home state, they would likely be forcibly retained and forced to attend the next special legislative session so that a quorum could be established and a new voter redistricting bill could be passed by the Republican majority.
In addition to their quest to control the 2004 elections through redistricting, the right wing is attempting to give their corporate sponsors the ability to limit Texans' ability to win justice in court. That is the purpose of the stealth amendment, Proposition 12, hidden in the middle of the ballot for the September 13 election.
Labor Day speakers all over Texas cautioned their listeners that the eyes of
the world are on them as they stand up and fight the right-wing assault. In
Dallas the giant inflatable "Rick the Rat" stood near the podium.