State employees rally at Capitol: ‘They say privatize, we say organize’


Highlights

Hundreds of state employee union members rallied at the Capitol.

They asked for pay raises and criticized plans to privatize parts of CPS.

Hundreds of members of the Texas State Employees Union on Wednesday marched to the Capitol to push for pay raises and oppose the privatization of foster care services.

The workers — chanting “Union-busting is disgusting” and “They say privatize, we say organize” — urged lawmakers to tap the state’s rainy day fund, which is projected to reach $11.9 billion in the next budget cycle, rather than make severe cuts to state agencies and public universities.

“Stop pretending like Texas is broke and start spending on services that actually help Texans like higher education, Medicaid, state supported living centers for the intellectually disabled, state hospitals for the mentally ill and protecting abused kids,” said Judy Lugo, president of the 11,000-member union, which is affiliated with the Communication Workers of America.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Speakers at the rally applauded plans in the House and Senate that would increase funding for the scandal-plagued Child Protective Services by more than $400 million, but they assailed an aspect of the reform plan that would privatize many foster care services.

“With privatization it’s more of a moneymaking agency than one of services, so our children will fall through the cracks even more,” said Claudia Esquivel, 47, a CPS adoption supervisor in Laredo. “They’re going to privatize to someone who will in turn privatize to somebody else and somebody else, so at the end of the day no one’s going to want to take accountability or responsibility for anything that happens to our children.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

The union members spent the rest of Wednesday lobbying lawmakers in their Capitol offices on a long list of priorities, including increasing pension payments to retired state employees, pushing back against significant cuts to higher education in the Senate’s budget plans and voting against bills that would prohibit some unions from collecting dues through deductions from members’ paychecks. They also oppose the hiring freeze Gov. Greg Abbott implemented in January.

The workers face an uphill battle in persuading the conservative Legislature to adopt their priorities.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Texas State president condemns white supremacist fliers on campus

Texas State University officials said white supremacist fliers had been posted on some of the buildings on campus and that university police were investigating the matter. University President Denise Trauth issued a statement Friday, condemning the fliers and telling students that “there is no place for hate at our university.” RELATED...
Police seeking help solving death of 25-year-old man found in East Austin
Police seeking help solving death of 25-year-old man found in East Austin

Police are seeking the public’s help to solve the death of a 25-year-old man who was found in East Austin on Thursday morning. Magdaleno Benitez Flores, 25, was discovered by MasTec utility employees in the 5000 block of Alf Avenue, near the Austin Energy Kingsbury Station Solar Project just east of Springdale Road, Austin police said. Police...
Average Austin property tax bill hits $7,600, up $517 from last year
Average Austin property tax bill hits $7,600, up $517 from last year

The owner of an average Austin home will pay $7,607 in property taxes this year, an increase of 21 percent, or about $1,342 more than five years ago. Over that time, the taxable value of the average home has risen from $262,434 to $343,604, according to the Travis County appraisal district. It is a property tax hike of $517 over last year for the owner...
Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says
Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

Different types of foods have been linked to cancer, including saturated fats and processed meats. Now, scientists say sugar can fuel the disease, too.  Researchers from universities in Belgium recently conducted a nine-year experiment, published in Nature Communications, that revealed how sugar stimulates the growth of tumors. ...
Average Austin property tax bill hits $7,600, up $517 from last year
Average Austin property tax bill hits $7,600, up $517 from last year

The Johnson family didn’t want to leave Austin. They loved their home nestled in the popular Circle C neighborhood, with close friends as neighbors, a short commute and good schools. But after 10 years of living in their 2,800 square-foot south Austin home, the property taxes increased so much that they became greater than the actual mortgage...
More Stories