BATON ROUGE — After hearing testimony before the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee making it clear that support for HB418 was a deliberate and willful attack on state workers, Reps. Clay Schexnayder and Lenar Whitney voted to strip firefighters, police officers, and teachers of their First Amendment rights. Schexnayder and Whitney went on record with their votes attacking men and women who risk their lives for their fellow Louisianans, who teach our children and protect our homes. Being a public servant does not mean surrendering your freedom of association, but Clay Schexnayder and his fellow Republicans voted to trample on the rights of working people throughout the state to determine for themselves how their paychecks were distributed.
Cloaked under the guise of reducing the role of state government, this bill actually does the exact opposite. Teachers and local school boards across the state appealed to the legislature not to intrude on local matters, and Louisiana police officials testified that there was no measurable cost to the state in continuing to allow state employees their freedom. Whitney and Schexnayder ignored them all, and helped push through legislation designed implicitly to harass and inconvenience the working men and women of our state. Last week, Schexnayder and Whitney both voted against giving women equal pay for equal work. This week, they fought to strip rights from teachers and police officers. Which group of Louisiana taxpayers will Schexnayder and Whitney kneecap next?
“This bill is ill-timed, it’s ill-advised and it’s ill-informed,” said Julie Cherry, Secretary of the AFL-CIO in her testimony before the committee.
Chris Stewart, president of the Baton Rouge police union, said “It is a freedom issue,” and urged lawmakers “stand with your firemen, your policemen and your teachers. Vote against this bill!”
Schexnayder and Whitney, and their Republican cohorts ignored these appeals and voted on the party line to trample workers’ rights.
Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, added: “At a time when the state is facing a $1.6 billion deficit thanks to the GOP budget nightmare, Schexnayder and Whitney are wasting their time and our money insulting the working men and women who take care of our children and protect our streets. Louisiana families deserve better, and voters won’t forget where their priorities clearly lie. October will be here before you know it.”