While the country grapples with the outcome of the presidential election, TSEU members right here in Texas made real progress by electing candidates who will help us fight for state employees, retirees, university workers and the services we provide. On election night, TSEU was successful in 4 out 6 of our endorsed state level races where we were actively involved. These victories are a testament to the hard work of TSEU members throughout this election season. Whether it was block walking on Saturday mornings or phone banking late into the evenings, TSEU made a big impact in these elections through organizing and political action.
As a union committed to fighting against all forms of racism, sexism, and homophobia, TSEU shares the concerns of millions of Americans over the direction of our country under President-elect Trump’s leadership. We will continue to stand united against any type of discrimination or oppression against any community. Here in Texas, our organizing and political victories show that we can continue to grow our movement and make gains for state workers and retirees across our state no matter who our president is.
We will continue our fight here in Texas, regardless of what happens on the national stage. By organizing and mobilizing our coworkers and fellow retirees into our union during the coming legislative session, we can win on our issues: an across-the-board pay raise for state workers, a COLA for retirees, and increased funding and staffing levels in agencies and universities. And by doing so, we can strike a blow against all those who wish to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.
TSEU Wins in Texas
Two of our victories came from within San Antonio. In house district 118, TSEU-endorsed Tomas Uresti defeated incumbent State Rep. John Lujan by a comfortable margin of nearly 4,800 votes. The other race in house district 117, TSEU-endorsed Philip Cortez defeated incumbent State Rep. Rick Galindo by 1,500 votes. Both of these races were rematches from elections in 2014 and 2015. The race between Philip Cortez and Rick Galindo was the most high-profile Texas House race in the South Texas Region.
In the Houston – Gulf Coast area, TSEU-endorsed Mary Ann Perez beat out incumbent State Rep. Gilbert Pena in house district 144 by over 5,500 votes. This race was also a rematch stemming back from the 2014 elections. In the Dallas area, in what was considered to be the most high-profile and expensive legislative race in Texas, TSEU-endorsed Victoria Neave won a slim victory over tenured State Rep. Kenneth Sheet by just 800 votes in house district 107.
TSEU-endorsed and former State Rep. Lloyd Criss lost handily to incumbent State Rep. Wayne Faircloth in house district 23 which is located in the Galveston-Gulf Coast area. Criss lost by nearly 11,000 votes. In the Dallas area, TSEU-endorsed Terry Meza lost narrowly to incumbent State Rep Rodney Anderson by only 120 votes in house district 105.
Our national union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), endorsed Hillary Clinton who lost to Donald Trump in the presidential election. For all of us who fight for a fairer and just society in which people of all walks of life regardless of race, gender, religion, LGBT status, ability and income have access to opportunity and are treated with dignity and respect; the result of the presidential election is very painful and difficult to accept. Despite the outcome of the presidential election, TSEU and our allies in the labor movement will continue to fight for the rights and opportunities of working people from all walks of life.
What does this mean for the 2017 legislative session?
All of our state-level electoral victories were pick-up seats which means that TSEU will have 4 additional allies in the Texas Capitol to help us fight for state employees, university workers, retirees, and state services. Regardless of the result of the presidential election, we still have to fight for fair pay, secure benefits, adequate funding for state services and universities, and our very right to organize and join a union.
Going into the 2017 legislative session, state agencies will be directed to cut their budgets by 4% while they struggle with high turnover due to low pay and excessive workloads as the result of low staffing levels. There is still more to be done in order to address the crisis in Child Protective Services and to repair our aging State Hospital system. And once again, anti-union interest groups will be attempting to bust our union by pushing policies that would eliminate state employees’ rights to pay our membership dues to our union through payroll deduction.
Many anti-state employee/state services legislators see the victory of Donald Trump as an opportunity to pass even more destructive policies without any resistance from the federal government. This should give us more to reason to organize our coworkers into the union and get them involved into TSEU’s political program COPE. Just as it was before and as it will be going forward, an army of organized state employees, retirees, university workers, and allies is what will be required to confront any challenge that faces us. Ask your coworkers to join TSEU and COPE today!