San Antonio Police Negotiations Get Even More Acrimonious

SAN ANTONIO, TX &#8211 Officials with the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association Thursday said City Manager Sheryl Sculley threatened to lay-off more than 50 public safety employees in a meeting last week.

“Let me be very specific. there was absolute clarity in which she said they were going to have layoffs,” said union president Michael Helle. “(The question) was even addressed to her, ‘Are you certain that’s what you want to do?’ She said, ’Yes we will lay-off public safety.’ Not just police, fire as well.”

Sculley said that did not happen.

“The last thing I want to do is layoff a police officer or firefighter. I’m not recommending that,” she said. “I think that’s posturing by the union. They really don’t want to make any changes, they’ve made that clear to us.”

Helle said the union is willing to work with the city, but would not negotiate under the threat of layoffs.

“SAPOA will negotiate as long as it takes. If we have to pay premiums, if we have to do deductible change, we need to look at all of those things to make it right. We’re committed to do that,” he said.

The back and forth is just the latest episode in the very bitter collective bargaining negotiations between the city and police union over public safety healthcare benefits.

The city wants to bring the cost of uniformed healthcare benefits down to civilian levels. The city currently pays approximately $12,000 per officer annually for healthcare. The civilian plan costs only $7,000 per employee.

Helle said Sculley threatened to layoff between 60 to 75 officers.

“That would be catastrophic. Our guys are already shorthanded as it is out there,” he said. “You’re taking resources that are valuable right now to the community and you’re going to remove them? Who’s going to do the work?”

Sculley said her budget recommendations, which she will present to the city council on August 7, only call for changes to public safety healthcare.

“My budget will include changes in healthcare and does not include a recommendation to lay-off any public safety personnel,” she said.

When asked if that included both civilian and uniformed personnel Sculley said, “I’m not recommending layoffs for anybody.”

Helle said the city is also considering a lawsuit over the 10-year evergreen clause in the union’s current collective bargaining agreement, but Sculley said a decision has not been finalized.

“Typically (an evergreen clause) is 90 days or six months. Ten years we believe is unconstitutional,” Sculley said. “It’s certainly contrary to public policy, but there have been no decisions about whether or not to take legal action.”

Both sides are currently studying a city proposal that would bring the cost of uniformed healthcare somewhere between the civilian and uniformed plan, but there are currently no scheduled meetings.


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