After more than two years of on-again-off-again negotiations, the City of San Antonio has reached an agreement on a new labor contract with the police union, City officials announced Tuesday.
The five-year agreement, which could be the conclusion to the at-times fiery negotiation process and an arduous lawsuit brought by the City challenging the 10-year evergreen clause in the current contract, is subject to City Council and San Antonio Police Officer Association approval.
The compromise was found while the two sides met quietly for several court-ordered mediation sessions. The lawsuit is on hold while the agreement is finalized, a process that the City anticipates will take about 60 days. Police union officials and its membership have repeatedly said they would only come to the table if the lawsuit was dropped.
Union membership will vote on the settlement before City Council does this summer.
The proposed contract includes concessions on both sides including a lump sum payment of 3% of officers’ salary paid upon ratification, a contract feature that the City had previously taken off the table; a reduction of the evergreen clause, which keeps the contract terms in effect until a new agreement is reached, from 10 to eight years; requires family members to pay premiums under one healthcare option; and eliminates a $1.5 million legal fund for officers – if the fire union agrees to the same in its contract.
This agreement does not affect the City’s parallel lawsuit against the fire union’s evergreen clause or its own, separate contract talks with the City, but it is expected to inspire the fire union to begin formal negotiations with the City.
Here are the terms of the deal, as provided by the City:
- All officers would receive a 17% wage increase over five years, including a 3% lump sum in year one, 3% increases in years two through four and a 5% increase in year five. There would be no retroactive pay for the two years officers have gone without a raise since the contract expired in 2014.
- All officers would receive an $800 increase in their annual clothing allowance to be implemented incrementally over five years.
- Officers would pay no monthly healthcare premiums for themselves, but would pay premiums for their dependents under one of the two plans offered. If officers choose the Consumer Driven Healthcare Plan, they would pay no premiums for themselves or their dependents.
- The $1.5 million legal fund would be eliminated when it is negotiated out of the fire union’s collective bargaining agreement.
- The total cost of the contract would keep public safety spending at less than 66% of the City’s General Fund Budget for at least the first three years of the contract. Under current projections, public safety expenditures would be 66.3% of the General Fund Budget in year four and 67.6% in year five.
- The Evergreen Clause of the contract would be reduced from 10 years to 8, with a condition that healthcare premiums would increase 10% for each year that the contract remains in evergreen after it expires.
- The City’s lawsuit over the constitutionality of the Evergreen Clause would be stayed pending ratification of the union contract. If the mediated settlement agreement is not ratified, the lawsuit would continue through the appeals process. The lawsuit against the fire union’s Evergreen Clause continues.
“This is a great day for our community,” stated Mayor Ivy R. Taylor in the news release. “The City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association have come to an agreement and achieved some key objectives. Our police officers will get a pay raise; we’ve addressed issues like personal legal expenses; and we’ve brought their healthcare plans more in line with what we offer our civilian employees.”
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City and police union officials will provide details about the deal Wednesday morning on the front steps of City Hall.
“We consistently stated from the beginning three years ago that we want a contract that is fair to our employees and affordable for taxpayers,” stated City Manager Sheryl Sculley. “Healthcare expenses are the fastest growing portion of the public safety budget, and by having our officers share in the cost of healthcare, we can better manage public safety expenses and address the many other needs of our community, including streets, sidewalks, parks and libraries.”
The Rivard Report will continue to follow this developing story. Read all the stories on the City and police union negotiations in the Rivard Report archive.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, June 15.
Top image: City Manager Sheryl Sculley (left) and Mayor Ivy Taylor smile after announcing the City’s reaffirmed Triple A bond rating during a press conference in July 2015. Photo by Iris Dimmick.