Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Jim Howell speaks to public safety officers at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City Wednesday. Public employees were urged to write to legislators and make their voices heard.

SALT LAKE CITY — At 2 and 1, Garrett and MaryAnn Keller were the youngest people at a public workers rally at the state Capitol.

But their father, Chris Keller, said the children were the people legislators need to remember the most.

"It's not just my future; it's theirs at stake," said Keller, an employee at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail. "Eroding safety is eroding the future."

Keller was among two dozen public employees who attended the rally sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Workers representing several sectors of public employees, from librarians to police officers, rallied in opposition of legislation that would cut employee benefits and retirement.

Two bills in particular, SB42 and SB94, would raise retirement eligibility by as much as five years and eliminate employer 401(k) contributions.

House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, told the crowd he was hesitant to make any big decisions on the issues, especially retirement, this legislative session.

"I'm am convinced we don't need to rush into anything this session," Litvack said. "Let's not predetermine today what it's going to look like in 10 years."

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, told the crowd she empathized with them, having recently retired from Granite School District, but she encouraged them not to be single-issue voters.

"This is a battle," Mayne said. "It's not just today. … I want to see you up here every year."

During the rally, Litvack, Mayne and Rep. Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake, signed an agreement to protect public services for state, county and municipal employees. All speakers encouraged public employees to write to their legislators, attend rallies and make their voices heard.

Seelig said those letters and visits will show legislators what the people really want.

"It's time to show them that in 3-D," she said.

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