Council members and union members

I was poking around the site of AFSCME Local 1624, the union that represents many of the employees of the city of Austin and Travis County. This is a video they recently recorded that features three Council members –– Leslie Pool, Greg Casar, Pio Renteria –– all of whom are card-carrying AFSCME members.

It’s funny to think of Council members being part of the employee union, since they are ultimately management. Pool, however, has been an AFSCME member since her days as a state government employee and later an employee of the county constable’s office.

As I’ve written before, public sector unions are a funny thing in a place like Texas, since (except for police and fire unions) they don’t have formal collective bargaining rights. They do provide support to workers in grievance procedures, although those employees must be dues-paying members of the union. Typically, in Texas, most employees do not choose to join.

Therefore, their most important function is to serve as an advocacy group for city employees, providing input on stuff that their members may care about: wage/benefits, sexual harassment policies, the hiring of a new city manager. And of course, these are all things that City Council decides.

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