City Moves Forward With Police Union Contract Lawsuit

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Mayor Ivy Taylor announces the City's plan to move forward with its lawsuit against the police union contract's evergreen clause on Oct. 1, 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Mayor Ivy Taylor announces the City's plan to move forward with its lawsuit against the police union contract's evergreen clause on Oct. 1, 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

After a no-show from union officials at a scheduled negotiation meeting Thursday morning, Mayor Ivy Taylor announced that the City of San Antonio will be "advancing" its lawsuit that challenges the evergreen clause in the police union's contract.

The City has officially asked for a decision from the court on its suit filed last November that calls the evergreen clause – which keeps the current contract in place for ten years until a new deal is reached – unconstitutional, Taylor said, but that doesn't mean the City is backing out of negotiations.

"The moment that we strike an agreement and have a contract then the lawsuit would go away," she said. "I would hope that they would reconsider and come back to the table, that certainly is an option."

San Antonio Police Officer Association (SAPOA) Mike Helle sent a letter to the mayor and city council members on Wednesday that stated the union won't be returning to the table until the lawsuit is dropped.

"Negotiations may resume should the City decide to remove the lawsuit and return to good-faith bargaining,” Helle stated.

The union has considered filing a countersuit.

SAPOA released a statement later in the day Thursday in response to the City's announcement that called for a "public debate" over the lawsuit.

"At the last minute (the City) said the evergreen clause was now a deal breaker. We look forward to finding out that answer in court," stated Helle. "It's sad that City Council supported this lawsuit in private, secret meetings."

The SAPOA negotiating team (from left): Ron Delord, SAPOA President Mike Helle, SAPOA Vice President Dean Fischer, and health care expert Randy McGraw. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

If an agreement can't be reached, the lawsuit will likely be appealed through a lengthy process to the Texas Supreme Court. That process would likely not take longer than 2024, when the evergreen clause expires, but Taylor said she was not sure how long it would take.

"It will take some time," she said. "A year to two, I would guess."

City Council will be looking into redistributing the one-time lump sum payment that was previously set aside for union members in case an agreement was made for other services, Taylor said, and budget adjustments need to be made in coming years to compensate for ballooning health care costs that the City is obligated to pay while operating "in evergreen."

The current 10-year evergreen clause has been in effect since the most recent five-year contract expired in September 2014. It offers members no wage increases, but continues to provide longevity pay increases and cover health care costs. Union members and their dependents do not pay monthly premiums.

The two sides appeared to be on the brink of agreement during a meeting last week that included some dependent premiums and a 15.75% wage package over the life of the four-year contract, but the disputed evergreen clause sparked heated discourse as the afternoon gave way to evening bargaining and the disagreement brought the meeting to a tense close.

"The end seemed to be in sight so of course it's very frustrating to not be able to conclude at this point," Taylor said.

If an “impasse” in negotiations is declared, which seems unlikely, voters could find themselves voting on a new contract, according to an ordinance passed in 1980 that has never been used or been tested by a legal challenge. Taylor said there has been no formal discussions about it, but that "individual conversations" have taken place in City Hall about that option.

 

This story has been updated with statements released from SAPOA.

*Top image: Mayor Ivy Taylor announces the City's plan to move forward with its lawsuit against the police union contract's evergreen clause. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Related Stories:

Read all the stories on the City and police union negotiations in the Rivard report archive.

Police Union: Drop Lawsuit or Negotiations are Dead

City Makes New Offer, But Union Officials Stay Away

City, Police Union Stall Over Evergreen Clause

City, Police Union Gap Narrows to $4 Million

4 thoughts on “City Moves Forward With Police Union Contract Lawsuit

  1. Would you willingly take a pay cut? Doesn’t paying into the retiree pre-paid health fund count as a premium? Do you want job security and compensation protection? These are questions the local media has failed to ask the well compensated COSA negotiations team.

    • The reason no one has asked these questions is because they’re questions that are out of touch with the real world. Most folks don’t even have an employer sponsored retiree health and can’t fathom the thought of job security and pay protection anymore. So to expect those things and demonize the employer who is pushing for what most people consider very generous isn’t going to win you any sympathy.

  2. The City Mananger just using bullying tactics to get what she wants, the City Manager has yet to nogotiate in good faith. Then uses her control of the Express News to lie to the public.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong but in the 1980’s when the CBA was drafted, it was the city negotiators that wanted the 10 year evergreen clause, not SAPOA and SAPOA agreed to it. Since then every cm including Sculley has said signed off on it agreeing to the 10 years and now she says it’s unconstitutional? She should have said that when she first got here or was she too busy negotiating her own contract setting herself up for her big payday? Let’s scrutinize all public servant contracts and not negotiate behind close doors on the city managers contract so the tax payers have no clue on sculleys perks and half million dollar contract!

    https://www.facebook.com/stanley.bernstein.5/posts/1497440180550484

    https://www.facebook.com/stanley.bernstein.5/posts/1497235013904334

    https://www.facebook.com/stanley.bernstein.5/posts/1497154790579023

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