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AFSCME Members Secure Big Victories in Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas – AFSCME members in the Lone Star state won big in the recently-concluded legislative session.

Correctional employees throughout the state secured more than $13 million in vehicle replacement funds and $40 million for much-needed repairs to correctional facilities and units. And Houston city workers secured an historic pension reform plan.

The big budget win was the result of direct action by AFSCME Texas Corrections members, including lobbying, phone calls, petitions, and one-on-one conversations with legislators during the legislative session, which ended May 29.

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Sgt. Lance Mondragon and Ofc. Michelle Griggs, both members of AFSCME Texas Corrections, talk to state Rep. Dustin Burrows during a recent trip to the Texas Capitol. (Photos by Namita Waghray)

“Some of our facilities are almost 20 years old, and the wear and tear affects our work,” said Correctional Officer Adegboyega Ojerinde of Beeville, Texas. “The vehicles we use to transport and provide perimeter patrol need to be in working condition. When they aren’t, it creates a dangerous situation. I know as a correctional officer it was really important that my legislator hear directly from me how important these budget requests were.”

Pension and retirement security were leading legislative priorities for HOPE AFSCME Local 123 and Houston city employees. AFSCME members worked with Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city officials to address the looming retirement crisis facing Houston.

They worked to pass a bill that secured the retirement fund for public workers, blocked officials from borrowing against it and required the city of Houston to repay what it had previously borrowed. The bill also helped avoid close to 2,200 layoffs and kept the city’s budget financially intact, according to HOPE.

AFSCME members also succeeded in thwarting Senate Bill 13 (SB 13), which sought to eliminate automatic payroll deductions for union dues. The bill would have limited our members’ economic freedom and caused serious negative consequences for workers’ ability to negotiate through their union.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling a special session starting July 18 and SB 13 is on the agenda, which means AFSCME Texas’ hard-fought victory is in jeopardy. AFSCME is committed to fighting back any future efforts by Texas politicians to undermine our wins or our strength.

AFSCME members in Texas lobbied their state legislature hard – and won three important victories as a result.