Electricians and plumbers from San Antonio visited the State Capitol in Austin on Wednesday, March 6th to meet with local elected officials about policies that impact skilled workers.
Specifically, they focused on 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.
“I’m here to oppose SB15. It’s taking all of the creativity out of the local municipalities and cities and mandating from the state level. It’s crushing. Right now, it’s being used as a guise to do away with paid sick leave. It’s also going to do away with paid rest breaks that ensure people get clean drinking water. Ultimately, SB15 just takes the power out of the hands of local communities,” said Shane Denn with IBEW Local #60 in San Antonio. “San Antonians know what’s best for San Antonio. Just like everybody knows what’s best for their city.
John L. Martin, Training Director for the South Texas Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee in San Antonio, explained how Senate Bill 15 will make it harder to recruit workers and remove safety standards for workers: “Right now there’s a problem recruiting skilled workers. The demand is high and the skills gap is very real, so recruitment is a challenge for us. Senate Bill 15 would hurt us because it puts less of a premium on skilled and educated workers. The electrical trade is already recognized as being a hazardous occupation and so the requirement is that we have individuals who are properly trained and educated. That ensures proper safety to the workers and our customers – and the public at large.”
They also opposed House Bill 1670 and Senate Bill 621 because they will disband the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, which ensures that plumbing is done by skilled professionals.
Abel P. Ledezma, with the Southwest Pipe Trades Association in San Antonio, said, “I’ve been in the business for about 25 years and just seeing them trying to do away with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners breaks my heart. I spent a lot of time trying to get my plumbing license. I spent years as an apprentice trying to get to this level. It’s going drive down wages and flood the market with unskilled workers.”