State Sen. Jose Menendez speaks at the Texas State Employees Union rally in San Antonio.
Members of the Texas State's Employee's Union rallied in San Antonio Friday, demanding that lawmakers make emergency funds available for worker pay raises and to stabilize the state's employee retirement system.
The rally in front of the Texas Health & Human Services Commission office in Southeast San Antonio was one of six held simultaneously across the state.
September 1 marked the five-year anniversary of the last pay raise for most state employees. The Texas Legislature has also not voted to authorize a pension increase for state retirees since 2001.
“It’s a vicious cycle that we’ve got to get out of," Texas Rep. Ray Lopez, D-San Antonio, said at the event. "Underpaid and overworked employees leave for better pay, creating more work for those who stay, which causes more employees to leave, and new employees to be overwhelmed when they step foot in the door. Turnover has never been this bad, and we’ve got to address it now, not later.”
State Sen. Jose Menendez and State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, both Democrats, also called on Texas' Legislative Budget Board to authorize emergency funding for state employee pay and pensions. More than 50 lawmakers have written letters to the board, asking for more funds for state workers.
TSEU members at the rally voiced their frustration that Texas elected officials have increased their own pensions and received cost-of-living adjustments in recent years.
“It is outrageous that legislators didn’t forget to pay attention to lining their own pockets while retired state employees are struggling to buy groceries," said Joan Barasch, a retired HHSC employee.
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