City, union leave collective bargaining table angry

Impasse over wages, dependent healthcare continue

SAN ANTONIO – Negotiators for the city and police union left the collective bargaining table acrimoniously Tuesday after the two sides failed to come to an agreement over a new contract.

Many of the issues separating the two sides, such as pay raises and dependent health care, remain. But city negotiators voiced frustration over the union's inability or unwillingness to craft a counter-proposal to the offer the city made at a previous meeting.

"We were dismayed, surprised and disappointed that the police union did not come forward and make a counter to that offer," said chief negotiator Jeff Londa. "They stayed with the offer they made before (our) last offer. That's not progress."

The union did not budge from the offer it made on March 17. President Mike Helle said the offer "meets the city halfway" and caps the police department's share of the city's general fund at 31 percent. The city wants to cap the entire public safety budget -- police and fire combined -- at 66 percent of the general fund.

Union negotiators said they have no control over the fire union's contract. They argue that under their proposal the city would recoup over $56 million in health care cost savings.

"We know what the numbers are (so) quit hiding behind them," Helle said. "It's 31 percent, what our proposal is. Just say it so we can move on and get this thing done."

City negotiators said the union's proposal would push the public safety budget to 68 percent of the general fund.

"The city's proposal is costing the city about $12,300 or $12,400 per person. The union's proposal is over $14,000 per person. We needed to have those numbers accurately described and we need to be able to predict health care costs because that's the biggest part of these negotiations," Londa said.

Though the union expressed a willingness to negotiate throughout San Antonio city elections, a date for the next collective bargaining session has not been scheduled.