Electricians, plumbers, and elevator mechanics - among other Texas Building and Construction Trades Council members -- visited their elected representatives at the State Capitol in Austin on Wednesday, March 6th to advocate for policies that will increase wages, safety, and career opportunities for skilled workers.
That group included San Juan Garcia, who is the Business Manager and Financial Secretary for IBEW #278 in Corpus Christi and President of the Coastal Bend Central Labor Council – the regional body of the AFL-CIO federation of union workers. In particular Garcia, discussed the importance of opposing Senate Bill 15, which is a far-reaching plan to block local governments from adopting any policies that improve wages, workplace safety standards, benefits, or any other conditions of employment beyond state and federal minimum requirements.
“Anyone who has to live paycheck to paycheck, I think can really understand the impact of not having local control when it comes to deciding what’s going to benefit your community,” said Garcia.
He also opposed a harmful plan, called House Bill 1670, because it would disband the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners -- which ensures that the plumbing in schools, hospitals, homes and businesses is completed by skilled professionals.
“Anytime there’s an attack on licensing, I think it’s concerning because it threatens consumer safety. When you water it down, it leads directly to lower wages -- which is the exact opposite of what many of our representatives promised their constituents when they were elected,” added Garcia.
Garcia also described how joining a union in Corpus Christi helped set him on a path to a good-paying career: “When I joined, I was a first time union member. In fact, I came across it because like a lot of our working people, we’re looking to find a job. I looked into their programs and it offered the opportunity to learn a new skill set. And along with that, it came with a lot of benefits, a pension, better pay, and better working conditions.”