Leaders of unions representing an estimated 300 thousand state workers are resisting changes to the Texas State Retirement System

The legislation was discussed on the floor of the state House yesterday.  Changes made by the sponsors leave the retirement age at 62, but that will only affect new hires.

“The pension makes the (state) positions more attractive,” says Texas State Employees Union Treasurer Anthony Brown.  He says state workers make 20 percent less than market and they have received no raises in the last five years.

Brown says, it’s not a lavish retirement plan.  “The benefit is 15 hundred dollars, which isn’t much to live off of,” he says, adding, “It does keep a person off the welfare line.”

The head of another union, the Texas Public Employees Association, says his members are willing to protect the union by contributing more – if the state does the same.

But, Brown worries about the job becoming less attractive to the new hires.  “If we get a person less-qualified, it will make senior staff work harder and the quality of services that people get would not be the (same) quality of service people were getting in the past.”

The Senate hasn’t taken up the legislation yet.