San Antonio verifies petition letting voters decide on SAPD officers' collective bargaining rights

click to enlarge San Antonio protesters hold up signs at a 2020 march against police brutality. - SANFORD NOWLIN
Sanford Nowlin
San Antonio protesters hold up signs at a 2020 march against police brutality.
San Antonio's city clerk has validated a petition filed by the organization Fix SAPD to let local voters decide whether to repeal the collective bargaining ability of San Antonio's powerful police union.

In a release issued Thursday afternoon, City Clerk Tina Flores confirmed that petitions submitted by Fix SAPD on January 8 have enough valid signatures to place a potential repeal on the May 1 ballot. City council is expected to order the election on February 11.

Fix SAPD turned in 20,000 signatures last month, which exceed the number needed to call for a revocation of Chapter 174 of the Texas Government Code. That clause gives cops and firefighters the ability to collectively bargain for new labor contracts.

Amid last year's nationwide protests for police accountability, local activist groups including Fix SAPD argued that the San Antonio Police Officers Association's existing city contract gives it too much ability to shield cops' bad conduct.

Reform advocates say the police should be able to unionize but that collective bargaining gives the union too much power to negotiate for conditions that protect rotten officers. Around two-thirds of San Antonio Police Department officers fired during the past decade were reinstated after arbitration hearings guaranteed under SAPOA's current contract.

In a statement posted on its website, the union said it "plans on working hard between now and election day to inform voters about how important collective bargaining" is to recruiting quality officers.

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