The president of the bargaining team for San Antonio’s police union believes it’s “probably more than likely” that they won’t have a new contract done by the end of their current five-year term, which expires in just 41 days.
Since February 12, the San Antonio Police Officers Association and the City of San Antonio have been in talks over a new contract. They have yet to achieve an agreement on the most important topics, like pay, health benefits, and the appeals process for discharged officers, more than six months later.
Even if the two sides fail to reach a new agreement before the current contract expires on Sept. 30, an evergreen clause in the contract would keep the terms in place for up to eight years. However, if the evergreen provision is invoked, officers’ salaries will remain unchanged even if their healthcare costs rise.
After a bargaining session on Friday, Sgt. Chris Lutton, SAPOA’s negotiations committee chairman, said that “I would say, at this point, just due to the logistics, evergreen is more — probably more possible than not. And so, we can find a way to discuss some of this stuff. But you just, you end up with time constraints. And I tell you what — the minute people feel pressure on them, that ends up with negative results. You know, time and distance is always a good thing for people.”
The city’s top goal is to overhaul the appeals procedure for discharged police, which is the most pressing issue.
The city claims that the present system, which permits a fired cop to be reinstated by a third-party arbitrator, is ineffective. According to a KSAT Defenders investigation, two-thirds of discharged officers who appealed their firing were eventually reinstated, either through arbitration or by the chief.
If the evergreen clause is implemented, officers’ contributions will continue to rise by 10% each year.
The two sides will meet again on August 30 and September 8. Even if they can reach an agreement at the table, it must be ratified by both the union membership and the San Antonio City Council before it can take effect.