City and Police Union End Years-Long Impasse Over Contract

Mayor Ivy Taylor announced in a press release Tuesday night that the city and the San Antonio Police Officer's Union have settled on terms for a new collective bargaining agreement, ending a stalemate that's dragged on for nearly three years. 

Under the new deal, officers would get a 17 percent wage increase for the next five years but shoulder a larger share of their healthcare costs. As part of the settlement, Taylor announced, the city will drop its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a 10-year evergreen clause in the union's current contract; under the new deal, which was struck in court-ordered mediation, the union's evergreen clause will stay, but drop to 8 years. The city says it will continue its legal challenge against a similar evergreen clause in the fire union's contract. 

Taylor praised the agreement with the police union in prepared comments her office sent out to media Tuesday night: “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.”

Taylor's office says 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 new contract. SAPOA officials couldn't be reached by phone Tuesday night, but union president Mike Helle told the Express-News that he hopes to "move on to rebuilding the morale and well-being of our department" following a tense and at times bitter contract dispute. 

In a prepared statement, City Manager Sheryl Sculley said the city struck an agreement that's both fair to union members and affordable to taxpayers. “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," Sculley said. 

Union rank-and-file now have to approve the agreement before it goes to City Council for a final thumbs up. 
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