Organizing, Mobilizing and Political Action over the last 30 years
This is an abbreviated history highlighting TSEU victories primarily as they relate to our pay and benefits, privatization, and on-the-job justice. TSEU has had many other victories throughout the years relating to organizing rights, equal rights/anti-discrimination, staffing/resources, representation, and more. Join today so we can keep on winning!
I. Introduction: how things were when we started and how they got that way.
TSEU was born at a time of change and challenge for the union movement. From the end of World War II in 1945 to the 1970’s the U.S. enjoyed one of the longest economic booms in history. Although the biggest part of the riches that were generated went to major corporations and their stockholders, the boom was so strong and so long that many improvements did trickle down to working Americans. There was a general, often unspoken, peace treaty between corporations and unions as the corporations agreed to share some of the wealth and the unions agreed to back off on calls for real changes in society. Many unions and union members had grown comfortable with their ability to win regular improvements in their lives and jobs, and with their relationships with their employers. Very few unions placed a high priority on reaching out to unorganized workers. Although the U. S. labor movement had a proud history of being part of the fights for civil, political, and economic rights for all Americans, the vision of many unions and leaders had narrowed to a focus on pay for current members and “shop floor” issues in already-organized industries.
After peaking in the 1950’s, union membership compared to the total number of workers began to drop slowly, but steadily every year. Restructuring of industry in the United States, a severe economic downturn after the decades-long post-World War II boom, and a renewed assault on organized workers by major corporations after years of relative truce changed the realities that several generations had grown up with. New attacks began on the improved social safety net and on civil rights gains that had been won from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. Many corporations, feeling that they could no longer afford to honor the peace treaty with labor, began campaigns to drive unions out of long-organized industries. In telecommunications, hundreds of thousands faced layoff from long-secure, good-paying jobs when AT&T was broken up in 1981-83.
II. The early days of TSEU: 1979-1980
TSEU was born when two key developments came together in 1979-80. In Texas, employees at several state agencies were growing frustrated with a falling standard of living; chronic understaffing and lack of other resources that would allow us to provide first-class services to the people of Texas; and oppressive, nonresponsive working conditions. Texas state employees began to look for ways to build organizations that would empower front-line state workers and lead to concrete improvements. A group of MHMR workers centered in Austin began to organize independently. They quickly realized that it would be difficult to build a completely new organization with the power to take on state agencies and politicians, and hoped to make organized Texas state workers a part of the overall family of organized workers in Texas and in our country. They began to contact unions who already had a presence in the state to ask how they could become part of the union movement.
At the same time, the Communications Workers of America began to reach out to public workers as long-organized telecommunications workers began to realize that their own abilities to face new challenges depended on the overall strength of the labor movement and of CWA. Many CWA members and leaders realized that our ability to take on the telecommunications employers would be strengthened if they could bring new groups of workers in their communities into our union.
In 1979 New Jersey state workers began an all-out organizing drive supported by CWA. As the New Jersey state employee and other organizing drives in the public and private sectors picked up speed, CWA created a national Public Workers Dept. in 1980. 32,000 New Jersey state workers became CWA members after a representation election in May, 1981.
In Texas several CWA leaders realized the importance of building overall union power, and began to reach out to groups outside of the traditional telecommunications sectors. CWA was the largest union in the state, and the only one that had members in every city and town. In 1979 Texas CWA leaders, having been approached by frustrated state employees in several parts of the state, began a push to help state workers organize. Using the models of organizing and union structure that were familiar to telephone workers, CWA members across the state went out to state agency locations with leaflets and information. The MHMR workers who had already started to organize joined up with the CWA outreach project, and TSEU was born. From the beginning TSEU has been built around the ideas that our union must constantly grow stronger by reaching out to unorganized workers, and that we should be in the forefront of an overall movement for justice.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: TSEU was born as a CWA organizing project. All expenses were paid by CWA. TSEU had six staff, including three organizers. Dues are $6 per month, paid in cash. Attorney General Mark White announces that state workers can pay union dues via payroll deduction. TSEU organizers begin to collect dues authorization cards and consider signers of these cards as members. TSEU has one office, Austin Pay:
TSEU launches its first “flat amount” pay raise campaign, calling for a total of $400 in raises for all state workers during the next three years.
Organizing & Organizing Rights: TSEU opens offices in Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Weslaco, Mexia New Governor Bill Clements issues declaration prohibiting state workers from paying union dues by payroll deduction and the Texas Legislature passes a bill prohibiting payroll deduction dues. TSEU begins bank draft system to pay dues. Mobilizing:
First TSEU Lobby Day (April 21) Health Care:
TSEU calls for health care reform as premiums shoot up. TSEU calls for full payment of employee and dependent premiums. Pay:
TSEU wins emergency pay raise of 5.1 % with $50 floor. The $50 floor is the first “flat amount” raise ever won by Texas State Employees. Raises of 9.2% for 1981 and 8.8% for 1982 were also approved by the Legislature. The University Employees Union at UT files the “Joki v Flawn” lawsuit against UT when the UT administration refuses to properly implement a legislated pay raise. The university give the raise to each employee, but does not raise the salary for positions as intended by the Legislature. MHMR: TSEU wins 9000 workers 2-step pay upgrade. Political Rights:
TSEU defeats the “McFarland Amendment”, an attempt to make it illegal for state workers to testify before the Legislature. Privatization:
TSEU members organize to stop a plan to contract out clerical jobs in DHR (now DHS)
First TSEU statewide officers elected: President: Dwight Lusk (MHMR/Lubbock); Vice-President: Jerry Mowery (MHMR/Rusk); Secretary: Catharine Denton (DHR/Dallas); Treasurer: Frances Morrow (DHR/Corpus Christi); Region 1: Santos Gutierrez (DHS/Mercedes); Region 2: Sharice Adams (DHR/San Antonio); Region 4: Ruby Johnson (MHMR/San Angelo); Region 5: Anna Chatman (MHMR/Lubbock); Region 7: Gary McFarland (MHMR/Lufkin); Region 8: Melvin Jones (Highway dept/Cleveland); Region 9: Eliza May (DHR/Austin); Region 11:Paula McClain (DHR/Houston). MHMR:
Sued on right to representation with union representative. Wins suit in DHS for Union members to represent other DHS workers in hearings.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: TSEU settles organizing rights lawsuits with Texas Dept. of Highways & Public Transportation (now Texas Dept. of Transportation) and Texas Dept. of Health that includes right to meet on agency property, right to have representatives in complaint procedures, and others. TSEU opens office in Rusk Organizing drive starts at SFA and supports NAACP fight against job segregation. Pay:
TSEU win pay raises of 4% for FY 1984 and 3% for FY 1985 MHMR:
TSEU launches campaign against MHMR policy of unannounced & unregulated polygraph testing of employees accused of abuse or neglect. The campaign included a lawsuit that TSEU won in 1984) Stopped the fingerprinting of all employees. DHR (DHS):
TSEU launches campaign for full staffing at DHR, issues Special DHR Bulletin
Organizing and Organizing Rights: TSEU begins organizing drive in Texas Dept. of Corrections (now TDCJ-ID). TSEU files lawsuit against TDC for right to organize, right to represent members. First TDC grievance procedure is one result of the lawsuit.
Pay: TSEU calls for emergency pay raise after two years of actual pay cuts due to skyrocketing health care premiums.
Health Care/Pension: TSEU calls for 6% pension increase for retirees.
Equal rights/Discrimination: CWA and TSEU fund a complete analysis of gender discrimination in Texas state agencies. The report “Job Segregation and Wage Inequalities in Texas State Employment” is published in December.
MHMR: TSEU joins RAJ state hospital reform lawsuit as representative of employees. The preliminary RAJ settlement that year set strict staff/client ratios for state hospitals.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: After two years of building a strong organization, SFA announces that it will privatize the Food Service Dept, the most organized group at the university. TSEU files organizing rights lawsuits against DHR calling for equal access to DHS property for TSEU, a clear policy of non-discrimination for TSEU members and activists, and representation rights. TSEU files a right to organize lawsuit against TDC when agency officials attempt to prohibit members from signing up new members. Valley office moves to Edinburg, TSEU opens offices in Lubbock & Huntsville.
Equal Rights/Discrimination: TSEU takes on support role in long-running race & sex discrimination lawsuit (“Carpenter case”) at SFA. TSEU supports and collects evidence for the plaintiffs in the Cirillo v. TDC lawsuit, which called for an end to discrimination against minorities and women in the hiring of TDC Correctional Officers. Pay:
TSEU defeats a pay freeze attempt in the Texas Legislature and wins a 3% pay raise for each of the next two years. Staffing/Resources:
TSEU defeats HB 400, the “State Employee Reduction Act” which would have laid off 10,000 state employees. Privatization:
TSEU defeated HB 2334, an attempt to contract out Waco Center for Youth. TYC:
Filled suit for right to join TSEU in Shabazz suit.
During 1986-1987 Texas is at the height of a budget crisis after the oil bust of the early 1980’s. The state cannot balance its budget, and there are widespread calls for deep cuts in services and state employee compensation. Special Sessions of the Legislature will be called in 1986 and late 1987 to address these and other budget issues.
Privatization: TSEU members at Rio Grande State Center in Harlingen defeat a plan to let Tropical Texas (a private agency) take over the Rio Grande State Center. Staffing: TSEU defeated attempts during a special session of the Texas Legislature to slash staff in state agencies.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: University Employees Union, an independent staff organization at UT, votes to affiliate with TSEU. UEU lawsuit against UT over pay issues becomes a class action. TSEU opens San Antonio office.
Equal Rights/Discrimination: TSEU supports an anti-discrimination lawsuit at the UT Health Center in Tyler that wins workers a $450,000 settlement.
Pay: After a bitter fight by TSEU members during the Special Session of the Legislature, the 3% pay raise for fiscal Year 1987 is rescinded.
TSEU and TPEA (Texas Public Employees Association) form a legislative coalition to fight for a pay raise and increased state funding for health care.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: Sept. 2: SFA Food Service workers, privatized under ARA inc, vote 2-1 for union representation. The SFA/ARA groups becomes the first TSEU members to work under a union contract. TSEU opened a Sugar Land office.
Equal Rights/Discrimination: December 12: Campaign at SFA to defeat privatization and discrimination culminates in the Jobs with Justice rally in December. 3000 trade unionists, civil rights and women’s rights activists, and others from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas march through Nacogdoches to the rally at SFA.
Privatization: TSEU defeats HB 1880, which would have created a council controlled by Governor Clements that would have searched for private companies to take over state services. TSEU also defeated attempts to authorize the privatization of state prisons and other services The legislature allocates $30 million for new, privately-run prison units over strong TSEU opposition.
Job Classification: TSEU won an appropriations act rider that mandated a complete audit of DHS clerical job titles and classifications.
Equal Rights/Discrimination: TSEU refuses to adopt a plan proposed by some TDC members that all HIV positive inmates be permanently marked. TSEU organizes HIV/AIDS education workshop, bringing in unbiased experts. TSEU publishes “An AIDS Fact Sheet” and our policy in the our newsletter, Update. A group of about 200 members at TDC splits from TSEU over TSEU’s policy of opposition to discrimination based on gender, race/ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The group that split from TSEU becomes the Correctional Employees Council.
Health Care: TSEU wins increases in state contribution to health care from $85 to $100 in 1987 and to $115 in 1988.
Pay: TSEU calls for raises of $150/month or 10% for each of next two years. The Legislature finally acts on pay in a Special Session, where a 2% raise for 1989 is approved.
MHMR: TSEU defeated an appropriations bill amendment that would have shut down Austin State Hospital and sold the land.
Working Conditions: TSEU wins final Texas Supreme Court ruling that MHMR cannot force employees to take polygraph tests.
Pay: TSEU launches all out push for a pay raise in 1989. Update headline “Raise Taxes/ Raise Pay” answers challenge that budget shortfalls make a raise impossible.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: Sugar Land and Houston offices are combined at new location on South Loop. Former TYC worker Karim Shabazz is awarded $102,000 in the settlement of a lawsuit filed by TSEU when he was fired in 1985 from Crockett State School. Shabazz was a key union activist at Crockett when he was fired, and later became a full-time TSEU organizer. The Sam Houston State University Library Association affiliates with TSEU in October. The UT Arlington Staff Employees Association affiliates with TSEU in November.
Staffing/Resources: TSEU does survey of CPS/DHS workers, finds that 90% work more than 40 hours per week, and launches push for more CPS funding.
Equal Rights/Discrimination: TSEU supports and collects testimony for the “Coble v TDC” lawsuit, which seeks to end discrimination against women in hiring and promotions at TDC.
Health Care: TSEU launches campaign for quality, affordable health care for all state workers. The campaign includes calls for increased state contributions and a campaign to elect TSEU members to the ERS Board of Trustees.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: COM/UNITY, the independent staff organization at College of the Mainland in Texas City votes to affiliate with TSEU.
Pay: TSEU launches “Wear Black on Payday” campaign to raise consciousness and increase unity around the pay raise campaign. Thousands of state workers begin to wear black on paydays in solidarity. TSEU’s campaign wins a $60/5% pay raise, the second “flat amount” pay raise in history.
Equal Rights/Discrimination: Back pay awards totaling $800,000 are finally paid to current & former workers at SFA University in a settlement of the Carpenter lawsuit.
Health Care: TSEU nominates Janice Zitelman as first union candidate for ERS Board of Trustees. Janice finally wins 16,838 to 14,594 in a runoff election marked by ERS attempts to prevent a victory by a TSEU candidate. The Appropriations Act includes commitments that the state will pay all but $10 of health care premiums in 1990 and all but $20 in 1991. These increases mean that the state will help pay for dependent coverage for the first time.
Staffing/Resources: TSEU wins 1,820 new DHS staff positions.
Privatization: TSEU defeats an attempt in the legislature to authorize the contracting out of state prisons.
Three former criminal justice agencies, the Texas Department of Corrections, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Adult Probation Commission, are combined into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Former TDC management becomes the de-facto management of the new agency, and the TDC “style” takes over at Pardons and Paroles. • TSEU releases “Fair Taxes for Texas” program and launches campaign to get it adopted by the Texas Legislature. The program calls for a fair share personal income tax beginning at incomes of $50,000 per year, a fair share corporate income tax, cuts in sales taxes, and investment of the proceeds in programs and services that benefit Texans.
Health Care: TSEU establishes a Health Care Task Force and publishes the TSEU plan for improved state employee health care. TSEU members continue to organize around health care issues as costs continue to increase and family coverage becomes unaffordable for more state employees. TSEU wins election of Dave Kinnamin and Wanda Garcia to GIAC (Group Insurance Advisory Committee) University of Texas
TSEU wins and hands out $400,000 in back pay to UT workers.
TSEU and TPEA renew their coalition to fight early calls for a “zero growth” budget that would cut most agency budgets and freeze staffing and pay. Another proposal calls for part of the ERS reserve fund to be turned over to general revenue.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: After a 10-year effort, TSEU wins the right for state employees to have union dues deducted from their paychecks when HB 78 is passed.
Pay: TSEU opens pay raise campaign with the call for a $200 pay raise for every state employee. Pay is finally decided in a Special Session that adopts a 3% raise for each of the next two years. TSEU organizes an August 26 rally at the state capitol after the State Comptroller announces that the state does not have enough money for the pay raise due on Sept. 1. After the rally a 2% raise is announced, effective for Sept. 1. 2200 UT employees and former employees shared $400,000 in back pay in the final settlement of the [Donoho case]
Health Care and Pensions: TSEU wins $350 million in new state contributions to health care. The funding increases the state share of dependent coverage to 40% in 1992 and 50% in 1993. TSEU defeats an attempt to raid the ERS pension fund and move funds to the “Texas Growth Fund” TSEU launches campaign for reform and files a lawsuit when ERS manipulations steal a victory from TSEU-ERS Board candidate Gloria Wilson. Wilson, and African-American employee of Denton State School, would have been the first minority ever to serve on the ERS Board.
MHMR: TSEU prepares for an all-out fight when Governor Ann Richards appoints a task force whose assignment is to begin closing down MHMR facilities.
Pay: TSEU begins a campaign for $200 flat pay raises in 1994 and 1995. A 1% raise is approved for August 1. TSEU begins actions to make sure that the 3% raise scheduled for 1993 will be paid.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: 1057 new members signed up between October 1991 and January 31, 1992 as the new payroll deduction law went into effect. TSEU membership grew from 5831 in December of ’91 to 8285 in December 1992. Numerous TSEU members and members of other CWA locals volunteered in the organizing drive. CWA/TSEU and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) sign an organizing agreement that assigns most agencies to one union or the other as organizing targets. Some agencies where both unions have on-going campaigns are assigned as joint targets, with final assignment to be decided later. The agreement prevents a contest between unions that has wasted resources, created bitterness, and weakened state worker power in other states. AFSCME puts most of its resources into prison workers at TDCJ/Institutional Division.
MHMR: An anti-closing coalition led by TSEU defeats the Governors Task Force on MHMR as TSEU’s all-out campaign stops plans to close down numerous MHMR facilities. TSEU members were joined by family and advocacy groups, especially the Parents Association for the Retarded of Texas (P.A.R.T.) in the campaign, which included rallies at the Governor’s mansion on March 30 and Sept. 26. TSEU announces that we will stand behind a policy of “No Closings/ Resources to do the job right” and fight as long as it takes to preserve a full spectrum of MHMR services for Texans. TSEU members organized at every MHMR facility, testified at every public hearing held by the Task Force, built the coalition with client and family groups, and pressured legislators. Although the Task Force was able to shut down Fort Worth and Travis State Schools, the pressure finally forced them out of existence and no other facilities were threatened.
TYC: TSEU beat a plan to close TYC’s Brownwood Reception Center. An “emergency” plan was proposed to close down the reception center and transfer diagnostic, evaluation, and transportation responsibilities to the counties.
The worst attacks on state employees in decades gets worse as the state budget crisis deepens. Pay raises dry up, and the legislature hatches dozens of plans to downsize and privatize state services.
Pay: TSEU defeats a plan to cut state workers’ pay 6% and reduce the state contribution to Social Security, but is unable to win a pay raise. TSEU defeats plans initiated by the Texas Performance Review (Comptroller’s Office) and the Legislative Budget Board to prohibit future across-the-board pay raises and pushed back plans to cut state employee pay by 6% to a plan to reduce starting salaries for new employees by 3%. Amendments won by TSEU prohibited pay cuts for state workers hired before Sept. 1, 1993. 1993 marks the beginning of a four-year stretch without a state employee pay raise. After a post-session campaign by TSEU members, Governor Ann Richards vetoed a legislative provision that prohibited across-the-board pay raises for university workers.
Health Care and Pension: TSEU defeated an attempt to stack the ERS Board of Trustees with members appointed by the Governor. TSEU defeated an attempt to take away part of the state contribution to employees’ Social Security.
MHMR: TSEU, in a coalition that included six other unions, state worker groups, advocacy groups, and MHMR family groups, defeated a plan to dump 500 elderly mentally ill patients from MHMR state hospitals into private nursing homes.
TYC: In the first round of a push for pay equity with TDCJ correctional officers, TSEU won hazardous duty pay for TYC (Juvenile Correctional Officers.
Privatization: The Council on Competitive Government, an agency set up by the Legislature and Governor Bush, begins attempt to privatize multiple state services in many agencies, including printing services, DHS Eligibility Services, custodial services, food services, maintenance, Child Support Enforcement, computer services, and mail handling. The CCG has the power to privatize any state services, with or without the approval of agency management. Texas Performance Review (part of the State Comptroller’s Office) issues “Against the Grain” report listing numerous targets for budget cuts, privatization, and “streamlining.” Reinventing Government–a book claiming that radical privatization is the answer to all public services management and budget problems— becomes the new bible for privateers and slashers in Texas government. TSEU “draws a line in the sand” and begins campaign to defeat privatization wherever it is attempted. TSEU Privatization Task Force is created to monitor privatization attempts and coordinate strategy. Organizing in agencies targeted by privateers goes full speed to build power.
Privatization: TSEU defeats first Council on Competitive Government privatization attempt at the State Comptroller’s Office Print Shop
The state budget crisis continues as the Legislative session opens. TSEU discovers that revenue and spending predictions are being manipulated to make the crisis look worse and hold down calls for a pay raise and agency budget improvements. TSEU publishes UpdateSpecial Edition “Billions Buried”. State officials are furious.
Pay: Despite an all out push, TSEU is unable to win a pay raise.
Privatization: TSEU defeats SCR 59, which called for an MHMR privatization “study”. The Legislature passes HB 1863, the “Welfare Reform Bill”. Besides many new cuts in services and hoops for clients to jump through, the bill authorizes the privatization of most human and employment services. 20,000 state jobs in DHS, TEC (Texas Employment Commission, now Texas Workforce Commission), and other agencies were threatened. The state names its human services privatization project T.I.E.S. (Texas Integrated Enrollment System). • TSEU mounts all out campaign to defeat T.I.E.S. and TWC privatization. Union members build a “wall of resistance” that includes organizing, on-the-job education of co-workers, contacts with legislators, letter-writing, and protest actions around the state. TSEU leads formation of a statewide coalition that includes other unions, client groups and advocates, civil rights and women’s organizations, and others.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: TSEU launches all-out organizing drive to build a grass-roots movement to stop privatization. By the end of 1997 (May 1995- Dec. 1997) over 6000 new members, including 1266 DHS members, had been signed up into the union.
Health Care/Pensions TSEU campaign re-elects Janice Zitelman to second term on the ERS Board. The fight for the future of Texas and the United States: TSEU takes on welfare/employment services privatization and wins.
The administration of Governor Bush, working with state and national political leaders of both major political parties and several major national corporations, tried to contract out most important benefits programs. Texas was to be a model and starting place for a national revolution. The large benefit programs: Assistance for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, renamed TANF by national welfare “reform” legislation), Food Stamps, Medicaid, Employment Services, and many others, were to be contracted out in multi-billion dollar contracts to corporations such as Lockheed-Martin, IBM, and EDS. State legislation was passed in 1995 as amendments to a large welfare policy bill. The corporations and their supporters in government thought it was a “done deal”. The affected agencies themselves, the Department of Human Services and the Texas Employment Commission (to be renamed the Texas Workforce Commission) thought it was a done deal. Many high-ranking agency officials jumped on the bandwagon, hoping for high-paying jobs with the contractors. Some liberal advocacy groups were initially drawn in by the corporate promises that new high-tech systems would improve access for poor Texans. Even those who were opposed initially gave up. Many Texas legislators said they opposed the idea, but that it couldn’t be stopped. _____ By late 1996 Lockheed and friends thought that they were firmly in control of an unstoppable movement that would move from Texas to the rest of the country. The potential profits were almost unimaginable. _____ At first TSEU was by itself in declaring war on the plan. Many supporters thought it was an impossible fight. TSEU saw that the privatization plan would be a disaster for poor Texans and for state employees, and threw everything into the fight. Our strategy was to oppose the plan at every opportunity, to throw “logs into their path” while building a coalition to fight back.
TSEU has pushed back the T.I.E.S. program so that the privatization plans are behind by over six months. T.I.E.S. rapidly loses momentum as the TSEU campaign takes hold . TSEU publishes full page article exposing corruption and incompetence of corporations know to be planning to bid on T.I.E.S. March 12: TSEU members pack a meeting of the Texas Workforce Commission and stage a rally and press conference afterward. The action derails a TWC Commissioners plans to pass a rule “locking out” prohibiting local workforce boards from use state agencies as service providers. The Commissioners later adopt the plan in secret and illegally. April 24: TSEU packs T.I.E.S. “Vendor Forum” and holds rally and press conference afterward. October 9, 1996: TSEU press conference “names” exposing former Texas state officials wh have gone to work as lobbyists for corporations seeking T.I.E.S. contracts. The press conference, which names both Democrats and Republicans, produces repercussions from Austin to Washington. The press conference is preceded by a full-page ‘Texas revolving Door” UPDATE (Oct./Nov. 1996) article that exposes the same officials. November 7-8: a TSEU delegation meets in Washington DC with federal officials, members of Congress, and top leaders of CWA and other national unions on Texas privatization issues. CWA President Morton Bahr commits to back TSEU’s fight with the full strength of CWA. December 21: CWA President Morton Bahr, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney meet with Clinton Administration officials on privatization in Texas.
Organizing: Over 500 TSEU members are transferred to AFSCME under the second CWA/AFSCME organizing agreement which moves all state prison workers to AFSCME.
Pay Raise: TSEU wins first-ever complete, across-the-board, ‘flat amount’ pay raise of $1200 per year for every state worker except for university faculty. TSEU defeats the attempt by university administrations and some legislators to deny the across-the-board pay raise to university workers.
Privatization: TSEU goes on the offensive to stop privateers in TWC, DHS. TSEU leads formation of anti-privatization coalition, which will include the Texas AFL-CIO, several other unions, and numerous advocacy, civil rights, and other organizations. January-May: TSEU and anti-privatization coalition win passage of HB 2777, which mandates legislative oversight, public hearings, and strict requirements for any privatization of human or employment services. March 28: CWA President Morton Bahr, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney with President Clinton to ask that waivers requested by Gov. Bush be denied. The Clinton Administration later denies waivers that would allow privatization of DHS Eligibility and TWC Employment Services.
Parole: TSEU wins right for parole officers to carry weapons while on duty
Privatization: TSEU files lawsuits against TWC in Travis and Cameron counties. The lawsuits charge that TWC transferred public property to private corporations and broke state laws in enacting privatization policies. TSEU will also assist numerous laid-off TWC workers in filing EEOC charges when older and minority workers get hit the hardest in layoffs. The Department of Human Services and other agencies announce “T.I.E.S. II”, a plan to privatize and dismantle human services programs that gets around HB 2777 restrictions. The core of T.I.E.S. II is a plan to close down DHS offices, eliminate face-to-face client interviews, and replace them with regional call centers. Many members of the anti-privatization coalition become supporters of the new plan, claiming that call-in centers will increase client access to services. TSEU sees that the plan will actually slash access, and vows to defeat it. TSEU members testify at all hearings (in El Paso, Dallas, and Austin) of the T.I.E.S. Legislative Oversight Committee. TSEU testimony shows that the plan will actually result in radically reduced access to services for clients. Also, dozens of legislators are visited and hundreds of worksite meetings held to educate co-workers on the fight. March 28, TSEU/DHS Caucus adopts policy statement on T.I.E.S. and Department of Human Services Creed that lays out TSEU vision of how TDHS should treat clients and employees.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: TSEU renews organizing push in DHS and other state agencies to take on the new attacks. Membership grows at the fastest rate in TSEU’s history except for 1992, the first year of payroll deduction.
Organizing and Organizing Rights: Organizing+Mobilizing strategy brings average 291 members per month into the union during 1998-99, hundreds of whom get active during the legislative session.
Pay: TSEU wins a second $1200 per year raise and defeats new attempts to leave out university workers.
Privatization: TSEU makes privatization a major issue in the Legislature. Dozens of TSEU members travel to Austin to testify on our issues after numerous delegation visits and town meetings with legislators in their districts. Over 1700 TSEU members march through Austin on Lobby Day calling for an end to privatization and a pay raise. T.I.E.S. II dies when the House Appropriations Committee refuses to appropriate funds for the program.
Other Victories Increased state contribution to employee health care Special children’s health care coverage for low-income state employees Increased university employee pension multiplier 400 new frontline positions in Child & Adult Protective Services. Union voice in MHMR state center transition plans 20-year LECOSRF retirement for parole officers Pay parity with prison workers for Youth Commission workers
Pay: After state wide lobbying push and a lobby day of nearly 2000 workers focused on pay raise, TSEU wins a 3rd consecutive across the board raise raise for all state workers plus a one step upgrade for MHMR direct care series workers with one year of tenure.
Health Care, Pensions: While fighting a defensive battle against privatization, closures and cuts in health care TSEU was still able to stop elimination of the SKIP program and defeat an attempt to switch our retirement plan from a defined benefit to an unstable defined contribution plan.
Pay: State Employee Pay Raise – Sept. 1, 2005 state workers get $100 a month or 4% pay raise whichever is greater. On Sept. 1, 2006 they get a $50 or 3% a month raise. In addition the formula for longevity pay is changed from $20 a month every 3 years to $20 a month every 2 years providing a significant extra bump in pay for long term employees. Health Care: The ERS received its full funding request from the legislature. There are no significant cost increases to state employee health insurance. This is a big victory for state employees. We held the line in a year when there were multiple attempts to significantly increase employee costs and cut benefits.
Pay: across the board raise for agency employees. For all state agency employees: 2% or $50/month minimum (whichever is greater) on Sept. 1 2007, and 2% or $50/month minimum (whichever is greater) on Sept. 1 2008. Retirement: Higher Education employees: increase in state and employee contribution, “13th check” probably on the way. The increases will provide a 13th check to TRS retirees. Agency employees: no increase in state or employee contribution. Health Care: Health Savings Accounts DEFEATED. Beat bill that required the ERS to create an alternative high-deductible health savings account plan for state employees and their dependents. Funding increased for state employees’ health care: The increase in funding for the ERS health care plans will probably prevent any plan changes (benefit cuts or our-of-pocket cost hikes) over the next two years.
Justice on the Job: “At will” for state school employees defeated. “At will”, called by some “Fire at will”, would have given state schools the authority to fire employees without having to justify the firing. Closures Defeated: Vernon and Pyote get reprieve after very bitter fights in the appropriations committees, funding was approved to keep Vernon Victory and West Texas open for another full year. Defeated new attempts to close state supported living centers.
Pay and Benefits: Defeated attempts to eliminate longevity pay while averting massive layoffs, and furloughs. Health Care: Health Savings Accounts DEFEATED again. Privatization and Closures: Attempts to privatize State Hospitals and close State Supported Living Centers were defeated.
Defeated attempts to cut pension benefits for all current state employees and protected our health care benefits from any cuts. Won the first across-the-board pay raise since 2008: $1200/year or 3% divided over a two year period and increased state funding for our pension plan to its highest level since 1985.
2015 and beyond!
The fight goes on: for pay that keeps up with cost of living, for quality state services for all Texans, for affordable health care and a secure retirement. There is still a lot to do: join us today to make the new victories come faster.