Court Orders San Antonio And Firefighters Union To The Bargaining Table

Roughly six weeks after the city of San Antonio signed off on a new collective bargaining agreement with the San Antonio Police Officers Association, there is finally some progress toward a similar result with municipal firefighters. But that movement comes courtesy of an order from the Fourth Court of Appeals that the city and San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association begin negotiations on a new CBA.

The court-ordered mediation comes after the city appealed its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a 10-year evergreen clause in the previous contract, which has already expired.

City officials said the firefighters union has refused over the last three years to enter into negotiations for a new contract.

“This is progress for the city, our taxpayers and the fire personnel who work hard to serve the San Antonio community,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley said in a statement on Thursday. “We are happy the court recognized the city’s willingness to negotiate and ordered the union to come to the table.”

A similar evergreen clause in the previous police contract proved to be a major blockade toward a new CBA. That provision called for the city to abide by the terms of the expired contract through September 2024 unless a new deal was struck before then.

City officials fought that clause in court. But last month City Council voted 9-2 to approve a new CBA with the police union that includes an eight-year evergreen clause.

The new court order mandates that the city and firefighters union agree on a mediator within one week, or the court will appoint one. In addition, both sides must begin mediation within 60 days.

The city’s previous CBA with firefighters expired more than two years ago. But the city has been obligated to meet the terms of that deal because of the evergreen clause, which was also set up to run through September 2024.

From The San Antonio Business Journal

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