Some council members want to end suit with police, fire unions

Five members of the City Council have called for a vote to end the city’s lawsuit against the police and fire unions in order to rekindle negotiations for new public-safety contracts.

The city filed a suit last year against the San Antonio Police Officers Association and the San Antonio Professional firefighters Association, asking a state court to rule that a so-called evergreen clause in the contract violates the Texas Constitution.

On Tuesday, Councilman Cris Medina filed a council-consideration request, signed by four of his colleagues, asking that the full council vote to rescind the lawsuit.

Medina did not immediately respond to an interview request by the San Antonio Express-News.

His efforts, however, may be stymied by Mayor Ivy Taylor. After Medina filed the paperwork, she issued a statement saying she doesn’t support spiking the suit.

The mayor said SAPOA is in the midst of internal leadership elections and a third-party consultant is working through facts and figures to help find common ground on data to help the negotiating teams move forward.

“During the appropriate window and armed with all the necessary information, the City Council will make a decision on how to move the process forward and will direct the City Manager to implement,” Taylor said in a written statement.

Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, one of the members who signed the CCR, said she believes “things have gotten way out of hand” and that it’s time for the two sides to return to negotiations.

“My hope is that by dropping the lawsuit, we can get back to negotiations,” she said. “I think we definitely all want to get back to work and get back to city business. And I think this has just gotten way out of hand.”

On Monday, former Mayor Henry Cisneros, the 2015 chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, called on the city and the unions to restart talks and hammer out a new contract.

The chamber is running a series of advertisements on the radio and in the newspaper that notes the importance of the city’s first responders, City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s handling of San Antonio’s fiscal matters and the need to reach a new deal on labor contracts for the union.

Mike Helle, president of the police union, said he would “most definitely” return to negotiations if the city drops its suit.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said about the potential council action. “It’s not healthy that they’re suing us.”

Check www.expressnews.com later in the day or the Wednesday edition of the San Antonio Express-News for full coverage.

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