Texas State Employees Union garner support for university staff pay raise


Alex Luevano

Organizers ask citizens to sign a petition about a 10k paise ray for Texas State employees on West Mall on Jan. 26, 2023.

Ireland Blouin, Senior News Reporter

Members of the Texas State Employees Union took to campus last week to get signatures from university staffers to gather public support for a pay raise bill. The petition calls upon President Jay Hartzell and the UT System Board of Regents to publicly support House Bill 202, which includes a $10,000 pay raise for all state employees, including university workers. If passed, the bill will also increase pay for student staffers and part-time workers at any Texas university. 

HB 202 was authored by State Rep. John Bucy with the help of TSEU to be considered for the current legislative session at the Capitol. The last statewide pay raise that included university employees was 20 years ago. TSEU said the purchasing power of university employees has dropped by over 30% since then. 

“In 2003, there was a bill that passed, SB 1652, that actually left university workers out of the pay raise that state employees got,” said Missy Bolbecker, an organizing coordinator for TSEU. “If universities had a merit pay system, they could request to get the money in a lump sum, and then universities could dole it out however they wanted as merit pay instead of giving an across-the-board pay raise for every campus worker.” 

According to Bolbecker, this bill is the closest university workers have been to getting an across-the-board pay raise within the last two decades.

Along with collecting signatures for the petition, TSEU volunteers used their time on campus to spread the word about their initiatives. The TSEU provides staffers and thousands of employees across Texas who have joined with an opportunity to fight collectively, said Anne Lewis, radio-television-film professor and member of the TSEU executive board.

“Unions (are) absolutely essential to make sure that workers are represented all across the state, in the legislature and just in general,” said J.P. Mensching, a software engineer senior and TSEU member. “I think this is a really important opportunity for us to take direct action to help workers across the state.”

Although there have been gradual pay raises for certain university workers recently, workers are struggling to make ends meet, Lewis said.

“People are falling behind, people are getting stressed out, we’re losing institutional knowledge (and) we’re losing workers,” Lewis said. “You talk to any (of) the people in landscaping or in libraries and you’re going to find worker after worker that is saying, ‘I just can’t make it here. I’m living in a basement apartment somewhere. I’m going to have to move to Pflugerville for a job there.’” 

Not only is there a problem with employees having to leave the University for better pay, but it is also causing strain on University workers who stay and have to pick up the slack, Lewis said.

“Remaining workers are having to do much more than they should be doing,” Lewis said. “So it’s a very difficult situation for workers at the University right now. … (TSEU) is something that really gives people hope.”