SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association announced Tuesday that it has broken off mediation negotiations with the city of San Antonio on a new collective bargaining agreement and has invoked arbitration.
"Despite hundreds of hours of combined effort, the parties remain far apart on the two primary concerns for San Antonio firefighters: firefighter healthcare for each member and their families and firefighter wages that have remained flat and stagnant for the last five years," fire union attorney Ricky Poole said in a letter to San Antonio City Attorney Andrew Segovia.
The fire union called for arbitration under Proposition C, which was approved by voters in the November 2018 election.
"I am disappointed that the fire union leaders opted to pursue arbitration," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement. "Throughout this process, we have sought an agreement that is fair to taxpayers and rank-and-file firefighters. Our goal is unchanged, and I look forward to a fair resolution from the arbitrators.”
"The Firefighter's Union elected to pursue arbitration -- we will prepare for that process. We remain committed to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that is fair to our employees and fiscally responsible for our taxpayers," City Manager Erik Walsh said in a statement.
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The city's statement also said that city negotiators "offered a generous, affordable and balanced compensation and health care proposal that would have maintained our firefighters as the best compensated in the state."
The two sides will assign an arbitrator and then join an independent third-party arbitrator who will help the two sides come to an agreement.
City of San Antonio Statement on Fire Union's Declaration of Impasse:
"Today, the Firefighter's Union decided to break off mediation negotiations with the City and invoke their unilateral right to call for arbitration under Proposition C.
The City will honor the confidentiality obligations of mediation and not disclose the discussions or content of proposals.
However, we offered a generous, affordable and balanced compensation and health care proposal that would have maintained our firefighters as the best compensated in the state.
"While we will continue to focus our efforts on developing a budget for Council consideration that meets the City's needs in light of current fiscal constraints," said City Manager Erik Walsh.
"The Firefighter's Union elected to pursue arbitration-we will prepare for that process. We remain committed to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that is fair to our employees and fiscally responsible for our taxpayers."
"We had hoped to reach a collective bargaining agreement through this mediation process and we greatly appreciate the tremendous efforts of our mediator, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Deborah Hankinson," said City Attorney Andy Segovia.
The City of San Antonio's negotiating team has met with the Fire Union 19 times since they agreed to come to the bargaining table in February of this year. After ten meetings, the parties agreed to mediation on April 17 to facilitate a more productive dialogue.