Big news: Working America has opened an office in Houston, their first in Texas!
Working America is an organization allied with the AFL-CIO that focuses specifically on outreach to non-unionized workers. They'll have plenty of work to do. Texas has one of the lowest rates of union affiliation, since we're a “right-to-work” state. “Right-to-work” laws don't guarantee jobs — rather, they prohibit many forms of unionization among private-sector workers. Workers in “right-to-work” states make less money, receive less benefits, and are at a higher risk of dying in the workplace.
This is a really important effort to build relationships with working Texans that deserve the same labor protections as organized workers. (Newsflash: everyone deserves the great worker protections that unions fight for every day, but most non-unionized workers are at the mercy of their employers in terms of receiving them.)
What's Working America working on? As the organization writes on their Working America blog (emphasis in original):
Our first focus? The expansion of Medicaid, which the federal government is offering as part of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. This provision of Obamacare is key to helping the nearly 2 million Texas families without insurance get access to affordable coverage – but it is being blocked by Governor Rick Perry.
Gov. Perry, as we know from his 2012 campaign, has national ambitions. His so-called “stand” against Obamacare is great for riling up conservative activists and attracting millions of dollars from right-wing mega-donors. But it does nothing for 1 in 4 Texans, including 1.2 million children, who don't have health insurance – according to the latest Census, that's the highest rate of uninsured in the country.
This is great news for Texas. We have a tremendous need for this kind of populist grassroots organization in our state. It's also a welcome harbinger of increased infrastructural support by progressive organizations. Investment from groups such as Working America can do a lot to flip this state and make it more worker-friendly for unionized and non-unionized working people.
Working America already has a petition calling on Rick Perry to accept the federal Medicaid expansion. Sign it here.
Welcome aboard, Working America!