Abbott's Anti-Closed Shop Stance

For once, state employment law trumps federal rules on closed shop agreements

When is a federal facility not a federal facility? When they use private contract security, seemingly.

Attorney General Greg Abbott announced on Friday he gained permanent injunctions against security firms Deco-Akal JV and Asset Protection and Security Services, and the International Union of Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America. They'd been operating under a closed shop agreement to provide security staff at two Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service centers - Deko-Akal at the El Paso processing center and Asset Protection at the Los Fresnos Detention Facility in Bayview.

They'd been doing this under what's legally known as the federal enclave exception. Layperson's terms: that's when a federal facility is excluded from a whole swath of state and local laws. Now generally this has been applied to shield the feds from local oversight, like the way that the famous Groom Lake (aka Area 51 to the conspiracy-minded out there) testing facility in Nevada is functionally invisible to state law. This can also extend to businesses that operate on those sites: for example, if a firm leases a federal facility, they may not have to pay local property taxes.

Abbott had contended that, even though both sites were run by ICE, they weren't really federal enclaves, making the closed shop agreements illegal under the Texas "Right to Work" law. It seems that the 117th Judicial District Court in Nueces County and the 171st in El Paso agreed with him.

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