Unions say they will negotiate if city drops lawsuit

SA police, fire unions locked in battle with city


SAN ANTONIO – On the steps of City Hall on Thursday, the police and fire unions offered the city an option in the multi-year wrangling over contracts.

“I’m here today to tell you on the record that if, in fact, the mayor and Council decide to put this lawsuit to rest and not appeal, in 30 days of that notice, we will return to the bargaining table,” said Mike Helle, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association.

But the city says that offer is simply not an option.

“It's not enough for them to just negotiate again,” said Jeff Coyle, spokesman for the city of San Antonio. “We've tried that for two years. We need an agreement. We need a contract.”

The city is planning an appeal after it unsuccessfully sued the unions over the evergreen clause in their contracts.

That clause allows the unions to operate for 10 years under the terms of their now expired contract.

“We won the lawsuit. Accept your defeat in a sportsmanship-like manor, just like we teach our children,” said Chris Steele, president of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.

Years ago, the unions' old contract was once agreed to by the city.

But the city argues times have now changed.

“The health care expenses in this contract are rising rapidly and the city has no ability to make changes to it because this contract keeps those benefits in place up until 2024,” Coyle said. “The fact of the matter is the union walked away from the table, not the city.”

“We still have a contract in place. Ideally, we'd like to secure another one. But this is exactly why we have the time period we do in our contract,” Helle said. 

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