The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court today against the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975 challenging the City’s labor agreement with Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975. The lawsuit, Pulliam, et. al. v. City of Austin, et. al., seeks to halt the practice of “release time” also known as “association business leave,” and “union leave,” which assigns city employees to work for the union at taxpayer expense. The agreement violates the Texas Constitution “gift clause” provision that prohibits government from giving taxpayer funds to private entities without a public purpose.
TPPF General Counsel and Director of the Center for the American Future Robert Henneke said, “Allowing full-time public employees on the government's payroll to work for a private union at taxpayer expense is even more egregious as the City of Austin’s proposed budget would increase taxes on all residents. All taxpayer resources should be put into services for citizens not directed to the benefit of private entities.”
“Under the Texas Constitution, the government is prohibited from spending public money for purely private purposes,” said Jon Riches, Director of National Litigation and General Counsel for the Goldwater Institute. “With release time, Austin Taxpayers are required to foot the bill for the activities of a private union. This is an abuse of tax dollars and violates Texas law.”
The Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit in Arizona, which resulted the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling in 2015 that government employees cannot be paid their government salary and sent to work for their union under release time.