The police union’s negotiating team came to the table early Wednesday morning with a counterproposal to the City’s “shotgun” approach of three proposals that it presented on Tuesday. The City then slid back another response. After an almost full day of policy analysis and crunching numbers – from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – the police union’s lead negotiator Ron DeLord said they’ll need to take Wednesday evening to come up with yet another formal proposal.
Progress, it seems, is being made as the two sides come closer to finding middle ground. If the San Antonio Police Officers Association want members to contribute less to their health care costs, it will have to compensate with relatively lower yearly wage increases.
After 19 months of sometimes tense and heated exchanges, the meetings seem to have become more efficient.
The collective bargaining negotiations will resume Thursday morning at 10 a.m. These prolonged, consecutive meetings signal a renewed urgency to get a deal finalized before City Council is set to approve the 2016 fiscal year (FY) budget next Thursday. Without a new deal in place, the City would have to continue to pay for the most robust health care packages in the state and using more than 66% of its general fund to it. City Council has directed its negotiating team to keep public safety spending below 66%, the city’s Triple A bond rating depends on it.
DeLord said the police union will, for the first time, have a health care proposal that will cost the City no more than $14,000 per member and will include (also for the first time) a concession that coverage for members’ dependents – qualifying family and spouses – will pay a premium for the consumer driven healthcare plan (CDHP) in addition to the value plan. Members can choose between the CDHP and the value plan, just like civilian employees do – though at higher rates than uniformed employees would under any of the proposals. Currently, neither union members nor their dependents pay premiums for health care. The City picks up the bill.
The union’s most recent health care proposal put City spending at $14,201 per member. The City’s highest number has been $13,500.
At the end of the day, the City’s lead negotiator Jeff Londa said the City cannot afford any five year contract that adds more than $75 million to the existing yearly costs for public safety, $321.9 million in fiscal year (FY) 2015. In other words, the total cost of public safety contract for five years cannot exceed approximately $1.68 billion.
“$75 million in additional money is the limit for us,” Londa said.
The City’s latest proposal would add $73.3 million.
There are plenty of other issues the two sides still need to resolve, which readers can explore in the Rivard Report’s comprehensive coverage of the negotiations here.
*Featured/top image: The SAPOA negotiating team (from right): lead negotiator Ron Delord, SAPOA President Mike Helle, SAPOA Vice President Dean Fischer, and health care expert Randy McGraw during a previous meeting. Photo by Iris Dimmick.