1. Ensure quality, affordable health care and secure pensions for state employees, retirees, and their dependents, including domestic partners.
All active and retired state employees have earned and deserve a secure retirement. Current retirees have not had a cost of living increase since 2001, and are living on pensions based on the lower salaries of decades ago. Reduced health and pension benefits are broken promises to the hundreds of thousands of Texans who devoted their careers to quality state services.
a. Defeat all proposals to convert our health care or pension plans to defined contribution plans.
b. Make all individual retirement account options “opt in” for new employees instead of “opt out”.
c. Cover all health care increases with new state funding; no benefit cuts.
d. Restore ERS health plan benefit levels to levels before the recent cuts.
e. Leverage public health care spending to demand better rates.
f. Approve full funding for the state contribution to the ERS and TRS retirement funds as well as cost of living increases for ERS and TRS retirees.
g. Eliminate the 90-day waiting period for new employees to receive benefits and restore the cuts in the TRS pension plan that were introduced in 2005.
h. Waive all out-of-pocket fees at state university health-related facilities for all state employees and retirees and their families.
i. Defeat all proposals to eliminate or reduce the earned compensation pay for unused accumulated annual leave upon leaving state employment and the credit for unused sick and annual leave in computations of state employees’ retirement pension annuity.
j. ERS and TRS pension funds should not be invested in companies that seek the dissolution of public pensions or their conversion to defined contribution plans.
2. No more privatization.
The contracting out of public services in Texas has resulted in deeply compromised services for the people of our state, in the waste of many millions of tax-paid dollars, and in crumbling pay and benefits for the people who do the work as corporate profiteers take the money and run. It’s time to end the failed experiments.
a. Cancel the Convergys contract, stop the CAPPS program, and rebuild state-operated human resources functions in our human services agencies.
b. Examine every major outsourcing contract and cancel the ones that are not meeting expectations.
c. Cancel planned privatization experiments and devote the resources to strengthening state services.
3. Fully fund all of our state agencies and universities.
In past years, anti-public services legislators have attempted to “starve out” state programs by repeatedly cutting funding, or by freezing funding in the face of increasing demands for the services. The Texas Legislature must accept its responsibility to Texas by adequately funding state services.
a. Restore and increase funding for human services, criminal justice, employment, education, and other state programs.
b. Stop the trend of reduced funding for higher education which forces universities to turn to corporate grants and increases in student costs. Fully fund higher education as an investment in Texas.
4. Preserve and expand state employees’ rights to justice on the job.
a. Defeat all proposals to reduce state employees’ due process rights on the job, especially “at will” proposals, and strengthen due process provisions for all state employees.
b. Pass a grievance procedure reform bill that improves the timeline and includes due process, just cause, and a final step outside the worker’s agency / university.
5. Fight for a fair pay raise for all state employees.
While the State of Texas faces severe budget problems, state employees and retirees have been facing severe problems for decades as the cost of living has increased faster than pay almost every year. It would take a pay increase of about $8700 to bring the buying power of the median state employee salary back to the level of 1987. This is just the amount to offset the increased cost of living not covered by pay increases we have received. Despite the recession, the cost of living continues to increase. Most state employees did not receive any pay raise from 2009 to 2012. University employees have not had a statewide pay raise since 2002. Every year we go without a pay raise is a year we really see a pay cut.
a. Fund a minimum $3600 pay raise for every state employee as a “down payment” on the full amount it would take to restore state employees’ standard of living.