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The Police Retirement and Pension Fight in Texas is Different. When it Comes to Your Retirement, You Have to Trust the Legislature that you Helped Create-We Have No Choice
Updated On: Mar 10, 2018

Posted by CLEAT October 18, 2012

By Charley Wilkison

There’s a school of thought that declares that officer rights, working conditions and fair pay are over. Those folks say we should surrender because the paradigm has shifted. The bad times are here to stay. Other states across the country are the absolute indicators and there is no hope for Texas. These are the same people who stand idly by and yell: ‘I told you so’ while you fight for your life.

However, as we once wrote in another opinion piece “running and screaming will not make the nightmare end.” The reality of what faces us in 2013 seems beyond belief. What seems like a few short days ago, we were in the Texas Capitol fighting scores of bad bills, including some that would have destroyed your retirement.

Although we prevailed and no bad bills were passed into law we knew without a doubt that 2013 would be much worse. In fact, that knowledge spurred me to ok the decision to make a goal line stand on the Worker’s Comp Sunset revision amendment to expedite the claims of first responders. The realization that the environment of the upcoming legislative session would be much worse is what drove us to rush our 2011 legislative agenda through. We worked hard, fought like the devil and were fortunate enough to prevail.

For those who predict a huge battle to protect your retirement, I agree. For those who predict Armageddon, I disagree.

Here are some of the geo-economic, governmental reasons why:

• Texas retirement systems are well funded, not like California, Illinois and other states where the politicians spent the contributions on other projects. Unlike some of the other states, Texas’ law enforcement defined benefit plans are in good shape and most of the money is going where it should. Most are funded locally with officer’s contributions being increased.

• The Texas economy is healthier, unemployment is lower and the workforce works cheaper. We are an at-will employment, right to work state with no striking.

• Collective Bargaining is enacted locally by the voters, can be repealed locally and contracts are all negotiated within a local political subdivision.

Here are some of the political reasons why:

• Other states have recently faced both economic upheaval but also political upheaval. Texas voters have remained steady in electing a Republican majority in both chambers of the legislature. Nothing new.

• I came to CLEAT during the election cycle of 1994. The Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner were all Democrats. But as the state voting trends changed, CLEAT did what other unions didn’t do—we adapted quickly and worked with whichever political party was in control.

• CLEAT PAC endorses candidates of both parties, but we work more closely with the leadership of the House and Senate who are Republicans. While unions in other states have fought against the tide of conservative elected officials, we have worked hard to educate them on our issues and have continued to prevail politically while others have failed.

In the end, CLEAT adapted to the new political environment and worked with whomever the voters elected to send to Austin. That’s why we’ve been able to pass pro-law enforcement labor bills like the historical statewide police ‘Meet and Confer’ law in 2005 through a Republican legislature, signed into law by a Republican Governor.

While others recommend some sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors political solutions, we believe we will prevail through solid hard work, our strong political relationships and our skill at war, when it comes. While others talk of surrender, we talk only of preparing for battle. And while others want to marry our battle to other, politically weak folks-we believe we must first win your war before we lend foreign aid to others.

Our strategy can only work if you remain connected to our efforts during the legislative session. We will need you stay closely glued to our website and Facebook pages for instant information. When we ask you to call your local legislator, please recognize that it will be a high priority call. Please contact them that day. Please stay closely connected to your local union as well. Your local leadership will be connected back to us in the Capitol and will have information as well. Anyone can contact me at

or by clicking on the Contact Us link on the CLEAT website.

Highest Regards, Stay safe.

Charley Wilkison
Director of Public Affairs

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