In the Republican primary runoff in Harris County, unions are rallying to defend State Rep. Wayne Smith (R–Baytown).

Voters have been receiving calls from the Harris County AFL–CIO asking them to vote for Wayne Smith and identifying him as “labor’s endorsed candidate.”

Smith is facing conservative attorney Briscoe Cain in the runoff. Cain came in first place in March and has been endorsed by conservative groups like Young Conservatives of Texas and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

The AFL–CIO overwhelmingly supports Democrats, but they are gearing up for a legislative fight in Texas next session and will need the support of liberal Republicans to win. Legislation is again expected to be filed that would end the collusion between public sector unions and government agencies by preventing governments from automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks.

The automatic deductions cause millions of dollars to flow to the unions, and ultimately into the coffers of the Democratic Party. That’s why the Republican Party of Texas made the issue a major priority in 2015.

Ending automatic deductions was presented as proposition three on the March primary ballot and passed with the support of 83% of Republican primary voters. A plank was also added to the Republican platform calling for the reform.

Business interests have already been successful in ending automatic payroll deductions in many other states, including ones that are traditionally dominated by the Democratic Party.

A reform bill passed the Texas Senate last session but was killed in the House State Affairs committee by State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana). Cook has been spotted working the polls for Smith this week during early voting.

Unions are relying on the reelection of liberal Republicans like Byron Cook and Wayne Smith to prevent the republican priority from passing next session. Briscoe Cain has publicly supported ending automatic deductions of union dues from public employee paychecks.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.