After a legal battle lasting over a year with the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA), a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was finally ratified.
Among the numerous sticking points with the SAPOA were annual raises and healthcare premiums for the officers and their dependents. The new CBA not only addressed those demands, but also does away with the lawsuit filed by the city against the union over the constitutionality of the evergreen clause.
The evergreen clause allows hiring and pay levels to stay as they currently are within the San Antonio Police Department for 10 years as the union works with the city on a new contract.
“I am very proud that the San Antonio Police Officers Association has ratified the contract terms that we agreed to in mediation. We now have a great opportunity to continue building police-community relations,” Mayor Taylor said.
Under the new five-year CBA, all officers would receive a 17 percent wage increase over five years, including a three percent lump sum in year one, three percent increases in years two through four and a five percent increase in year five.
Officers would pay no monthly healthcare premiums for themselves, but would pay premiums for their dependents under one of the two healthcare plans offered. If officers choose the Consumer Driven Healthcare Plan, they would pay no premiums for themselves or their dependents.
“This is a victory for our residents and for our hardworking police officers who deserve a fair compensation package,” continued Mayor Taylor. “Also, for the first time our police officers will share in the cost of providing health care for their families. I urge my Council colleagues to approve this contract so we can all move forward together.”
The comprehensive agreement heads next to the the City Council for a formal vote on September 1.
Additional clauses for the City Council to ponder includes: the evergreen clause would be reduced from 10 years to eight, with a condition that healthcare premiums would continue to increase 10 percent for each year that the contract remains in evergreen after it expires. Also, 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 percent 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 percent of the General Fund Budget in year four and 67.6 percent in year five, assuming the fire union and city negotiate a very similar labor union contract.
“This was a fair deal for our officers, and I’m glad they saw it that way,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley said. “From the beginning, our focus was reaching an agreement that was fair to our public safety employees and affordable to taxpayers. If approved by the City Council, this will allow us to add officers to our force and give our officers the pay raises.”
With this CBA seemingly all but put to bed, it is now the Firefighters Association who have their turn since they opted against joint arbitration when the City of San Antonio first sought to deal with the two unions collectively.
Although negotiations between the SAPOA and the City of San Antonio were often contentious, it is not yet known if that will be a similar tone with the Firefighters Association.
That falls largely in the purview of the City Manger and the newly-installed City Attorney Andrew Segovia, who only briefly addressed the issue following City Council earlier this month formally approving his tenure starting on August 29.
“Police membership is looking at voting on the new contract and we have to wait and see how that goes before we do anything else. Hopefully we can use their ratification as foundation to complete contracts with firefighters,” Segovia concluded.