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San Antonio voters to decide fate of police union collective bargaining power

City Council orders election for Ch. 174 repeal the day before negotiations scheduled to begin

San Antonio – The city council voted Thursday to order a special election for the repeal of Chapter 174 - the state law that gives the union its collective bargaining power. The council’s action was required after the city clerk this month counted more than 20,000 signatures gathered by the group “Fix SAPD” to get the measure onto the ballot.

The vote would only affect the police union’s ability to pursue a contract on behalf of all its members. The fire union’s collective bargaining ability would remain intact, according to the ballot language.

Fix SAPD members believe provisions in the union contract have helped to protect officers accused of misbehavior and allowed them to remain working for SAPD.

Council’s action comes the day before the city and the San Antonio Police Officers Association are scheduled to begin negotiations on a new contract. The current police union contract expires at the end of September, with an “evergreen” period of up to eight years.

If 174 is repealed before a new contract is finalized, SAPD officers would revert to scaled back policies and procedures in another state law - Chapter 143, known as “Civil Service,” after the current contract expires.

This chapter, though, still contains some of the protections Fix SAPD has found objectionable, and the group is still attempting to gather enough signatures to force a vote on whether repeal Ch. 143 in a future election

That signature drive requires a much higher threshold - more than 80,000 signatures.

The May 1 election will also also include a proposed city charter amendment, which council members also added to the ballot on Thursday.

Early voting starts April 19 and ends April 27. If needed a Run-off Election would be held on Saturday, June 5.


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