New contract could be imminent in fire union arbitration

San Antonio firefighters have been without contract more than five years

New contract could be imminent in fire union arbitration
New contract could be imminent in fire union arbitration

SAN ANTONIO – The members of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association could soon have a contract for the first time since September 2014.

In an email obtained by KSAT 12, the fire union’s arbitration team told union members it would be holding twice-a-day town hall meetings on Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to summarize the “final award” based on a “draft.” The specifics were not laid out in the message, which state the final arbitrator award would be sent out to the union membership when it is received.

“The final Arbitrator Award should be announced very soon,” the message reads.

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Under the arbitration process, the terms handed down by the three-member panel will be binding for both the union and city. In July, the fire union used the power it had gained in a charter amendment to unilaterally call for binding arbitration.

The arbitration process caps off a contentious years-long fight between the city and the union that has included court battles, mediation, and a campaign to change the city charter.

Big issues have included health care, wages and a 10-year “evergreen clause” that has allowed the union to operate under the terms of its last contract, which ended on Sep. 30, 2014.

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The city sued the union and claimed that the clause was unconstitutional. It lost, however, and dropped the suit in November 2018.

A city spokeswoman said the city could not comment as both sides are bound by an order to keep arbitration discussions confidential until the final award is received.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.