SAN ANTONIO – Mayor Ivy Taylor offered the San Antonio Police Officers Association a three-year evergreen clause Wednesday in an effort to bring both parties back to the negotiating table.
Flanked by several City Council members, Taylor offered several concessions on the steps of City Hall.
She drew attention to the Corpus Christi Police Officers Association, which she said recently agreed to a three-year evergreen clause using the same lead negotiator working with SAPOA.
"The only way to to resolve all of this is for them to negotiate," City Manager Sheryl Sculley said. "They walked away Sept. 30. We have not had any conversation or negotiation with them since then, and they're living under the evergreen clause."
Under the evergreen clause laid out in the most recent contract between the city and SAPOA, which is now expired, officers can continue working under the terms of that contract for 10 years, or until 2024.
The city filed a lawsuit claiming the evergreen clause is unconstitutional.
A district judge disagreed, ruling in favor of SAPOA. The city is now appealing that decision.
“We have to live under the evergreen if nothing happens. So if we go to court and we win, we win it all,” said attorney Michael Bernard, who is representing the city. “If we go to court and we lose, we're in no less position than we are right now."
As part of the city’s olive branch Wednesday, it offered to delay the appeals process if the union will negotiate.
But the union will not budge.
“We've told them I don’t know how many times. Maybe I need to do it in a different language. We are not going back to the negotiating table until the lawsuit is dropped,” said Mike Helle, SAPOA president.
Helle added that a three-year evergreen clause is not long enough.
This fall will mark three years since the previous contract expired.
“Think about it,” he said. “If the same kind of antics were to reappear again the next time around, my contract would be expired before we get anything done.”
Taylor also said Wednesday the city wants to meet the union at the bargaining table at least five times in March with a goal of agreeing to a deal by March 31.
The union maintains that will not happen as long as the lawsuit remains.