May 27, 2019

Organized, We Win!

Happy Memorial Day! We hope that all who are reading this are enjoying time with family and friends as we remember all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. TARA President Tony Padilla said, “We honor all the men and women of our military who gave their lives to allow us the freedom to work and retire in our great country.”



Alliance for Retired Americans Field Mobilization Director Brendan Kelly and TARA Field Organizer Judy Bryant recently worked to help set up a meeting with Houston TARA members and Democratic National Committee Disability, LGBTQ and Seniors’ Engagement Director Ted Jackson, at his request. Houston TARA President Cheryl Anderson and members Marlin Phillips, Annia Bradford, Rita Runnels, Charles Runnels and Andy Dewey met at the Houston Federation of Teachers office to discuss their concerns and issues for the upcoming election cycle with Jackson.



Texas American Federation of Teachers has long been an important sustaining member of TARA and many local chapters share members and meeting space. Members work together to support the retiree issues of education and other workers. In the photo below, many Texas AFT /TARA members participated in a major rally in front of the Teacher Retirement System building last July as they kicked off a campaign to win an increase in retiree pensions which had not seen a change in almost 15 years. All the speakers at the rally were also TARA members, including Cheryl Anderson, Rita Runnels, Judy Bryant, Daryl Jones, Ted Raab and Rosalva Reyna.

Yesterday, thanks to the dogged advocacy of Texas AFT and TARA members, the Legislature provided much-needed relief for retirees and a brighter future for the TRS Pension fund and all school employees by passing $1.1 billion in new money with Senate Bill 12. There is still work to do for a secure pension and adequate payments to retirees, but this is an important first step. Senate Bill 12 highlights are:

  • Provides a one-time supplemental pension payment (a 13th check) to TRS members who retired before December 31, 2018, capped at $2,000. This check must be issued by September of 2020, but if the process at TRS remains the same as previous 13th checks, it will be paid in December of this year.
  • Makes the pension fund actuarially sound, which means that it is now legally possible for the state to provide a permanent cost-of-living increase to retirees in the future. (We’ll be fighting for that in the 2021 legislative session!)

“This is a huge win for all Texas school employees and a significant change in direction for our pensions,” said Cheryl Anderson, chair of the Texas AFT Retiree Committee and Houston TARA President.  “Most retirees have not seen a real pension increase for 14 years, so it’s exciting and gratifying to see this progress. But we’re not done yet and we will not go away with our common-sense demands! We still need to address the harmful impacts from retiree health-care cost increases in 2017, and we need to ensure that future pension increases are enacted as soon as possible.”

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