San Antonio Fire Union President Re-Elected, Seen as Endorsement of Union’s Hard-Line Stand

In an election seen as demonstrating widespread support for the hard line the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association is taking in the ongoing staredown with City Manager Sherly Sculley over police and fire health benefits, SAPFFA President Chris Steele has been re-elect to a seventh two year term, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Steele pointed out that ‘more than 50%’ of the union’s members voted in the election, ‘which is far greater than the 12% of registered voters that went to the polls in the last mayoral election.’

The Firefighters Union has refused to enter into talks with the city over health benefits, standing on a ten year ‘Evergreen Clause’ which allows the terms of the old contract, including the generous health care benefits agreed to in the 2009 contract, to continue until 2024 if no negotiations take place.

The vote comes as contract talks with the San Antonio Police Officers Association are at a standstill, and after a judge earlier this week refused the city’s request for a summary judgement declaring the ten year ‘Evergreen Clause’ in the police and fire contracts to be unconstitutional.

Sculley has indicated plans to appeal the ruling, expecting a favorable outcome at the state Supreme Court, but four members of City Council who opposed filing the lawsuit in the first place are now urging Sculley to drop plans for an appeal.

Allan Warrick, Shirley Gonzlez and Cris Medina called earlier this week for the city to get out of the courtroom and back to the bargaining table, and now Ray Lopez has joined them.

“I have always felt and taken the position publily and consistently that a lawsuit against our public safety personnel is not the best path foreard in agreeing on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement,” Lopez said.”WE must identify a fair and financially responsible CBA at the bargaining table, not with legal threats or public smear campaigns.”

Lopez, like the three other Council members, are urging Sculley to drop her plans for an appeal and allow City Council to decide which action to take.

Mayor Ivy Taylor and north side Councilman Joe Krier have endorsed the city’s effort to move forward with an appeal.

Sculley is trying to get the public safety workers to agree to concessions in their health benefits, saying the costs of providing the police and firefighters with ‘zero premium’ health care threatens to ‘crowd out’ other city general fund expenses like parks and street repair.City Councial says the total costs of public safety should not exceed 66% of the total general fund budget.

From WOAI.com