City, police union leaders celebrate proposed police contract

Both sides stand in unison on steps of City Hall

SAN ANTONIO – City leaders and police union president Mike Helle stood on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday morning to celebrate the agreement on a proposed police contract.

Often at odds over the last two years, Mayor Ivy Taylor, city council members and City Manager Sheryl Sculley shook hands during a joint news conference.

Despite the negotiations being contentious, Taylor said police officers and taxpayers should be happy with the outcome.

"Police officers will receive the pay raises that they deserve," Taylor said. "For the first time in city history, they will also contribute to the cost of health care for their families. This will allow us to balance of public safety spending, other important needs and priorities of the community."

Helle said the union would have liked more money, but understands there are limits.

"We know that there's only so much money to go around. Certainly, I thought that the money that was put on the table for us was fair," he said.

Helle also praised Taylor for finally bringing both sides together.

He said the union's communication with Sculley wasn't going anywhere.

"I think they saw me as the strong person that was going to stay the course and persevere, and we did and were able to accomplish our goals," Sculley said.

Helle said, "I thought that after communicating with the mayor, that she had extreme vision, forethought, and saw a better vision than what we were currently in."

Taylor said she wasn't going to give up on securing a new contract.

"I pushed the envelope. I worked behind the scenes and communicated with Mr. Helle and his team in order to ensure that the mediation meetings would be successful," Taylor said.

Highlights of the proposed contract include:

  • 17 percent pay-raise over 5 years
  • Officers won't pay monthly insurance premiums for themselves
  • Officers will pay monthly insurance premiums for family members
  • Evergreen clause that preserves the status quo without a new contract would be reduced to eight years
  • Health care premiums would see an annual 10 percent increase during evergreen clause

Helle said an initial read from union members indicate that 60 percent of police officers are in favor of the proposed contract.

A formal vote will be taken later this summer. If approved, City Council will vote on the proposed contract.