Attorney General Ken Paxton today intervened in a lawsuit against the city of Austin, challenging the city’s labor agreement with Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975. The labor agreement allows for “release time,” which permits city employees to work for the union at taxpayer expense. The agreement violates the Texas Constitution anti-gift clause provisions that prohibit governments from giving taxpayer funds to private entities without a public purpose. Under the agreement, taxpayers are paying approximately three full-time firefighters each year to do nothing but engage in union business, including engaging in partisan political activity on behalf of the union and against the interests of taxpayers.

“The city of Austin has abused its taxing power and with it the public trust,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The city is siphoning money that should go to vital emergency services and redirecting it towards a labor union’s political activity. It is a basic tenet of democratic government that tax money be oriented towards a common good. An agreement that enriches a private organization at the cost of Austin residents’ health and safety cannot be allowed to stand.”

Under the release time arrangement, city of Austin firefighters are sent to work for their union and assigned to lobby government officials, participate in partisan political activities, negotiate for higher wages and benefits, attend union meetings and conferences, and solicit new members—all at taxpayer expense.