With petition certified, voters will decide on repeal of SAPD’s collective bargaining rights

Repeal of Chapter 174 will be put before voters in May election

Fix SAPD group turns in petition to change department’s collective bargaining process with 20,000 signatures
Fix SAPD group turns in petition to change department’s collective bargaining process with 20,000 signatures

SAN ANTONIO – A petition filed by Fix SAPD was validated Thursday, allowing the potential repeal of San Antonio police officers’ collective bargaining rights, City Clerk Tina Flores announced in news release Thursday.

The validation comes after members of the activist group turned in over 20,000 signatures Jan. 8.

With the petition certified, voters will now choose whether to opt out of a state law that provides collective bargaining rights for San Antonio police officers in the May 1 election. If voters approve the measure, the police union would not have the ability to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, a contract between the union and the city on how wages and the discipline process will operate.

Effectively, if voters approve measure, the police union’s leverage over negotiations with city officials would be kneecapped.

The council will order the referendum to go to the voters, as required by law, in the next meeting on Feb. 11, according to the city’s news release.

The so-called repeal of Chapter 174 is heavily opposed by the San Antonio Police Officers Association, who released a statement when the news was announced, saying Fix SAPD has not been transparent about their funding sources.

“Nevertheless, SAPOA plans on working hard between now and election day to inform voters about how important collective bargaining (Chapter 174) is to recruiting top-notch police officers who will keep our neighborhoods safe and to ensuring the Police Chief and the City continue to have flexibility in hiring, promotions, discipline, and boosting diversity within the Department,” said SAPOA President Danny Diaz.

Police Chief William McManus also distanced himself from the FixSAPD proposal, saying that he’s “not opposed to collective bargaining.” It contrasted with McManus’ stance over the summer, when he said state laws, along with the current collective bargaining agreement, protected “bad officers.”

The potential repeal will likely loom over the city and union’s negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. The negotiations are scheduled to begin on Feb. 12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

Proponents of repealing Chapter 174 say it would remove barriers that shield officers who have committed misconduct.

“This is about accountability for the police, not getting rid of them,” Ojiyoma Martin, founder of Fix SAPD, previously said.

Fix SAPD is also working on getting enough signatures to spark a referendum to repeal Chapter 143, which includes procedures for discipline upon which parts of the current police union contract are based.

The current collective bargaining agreement contains several protections for officers accused of misconduct, making it difficult for disciplinary action to withstand the appeal process.

If voters do not repeal the collective bargaining rights of police officers, city officials hope to address many of those protections in the upcoming contract negotiations.


About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.