Trial Balloon Floated at City Hall on Possible Police Fire Compromise

A trial balloon is being floated at City Hall which may be a compromise which could lead to talks being restarted.

The proposal: that the city should negotiate an end to ‘zero premium’ health benefits for all future police and firefighters, instead of trying to ‘take away’ benefits from existing workers. Supporters of that compromise say it would achieve the same goal of reducing the city’s long term costs, while not ‘stripping existing workers of benefits they have come to expect.’ They also say the police and fire unions would be unlikely to be as zealous in protecting benefits of people who are not year police officers or firefighters, and are not members of the unions.

Meanwhile, Mayor Taylor is trying to ratchet down the rhetoric ahead of a critical week in the stalled negotiations between the city and the police and fire unions, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

In an e-mail to members of City Council obtained by News Radio 1200 WOAI, Taylor says its time for the Chamber of Commerce to stand down from it’s public advertising on behalf of the city’s position.

“Our chances of negotiations are hurt by continuing the public media campaign from either side,” Taylor writes. “I have made it clear to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce leadership that there is no need for additional advertising at this time to support the City’s position or defend you (City Manager Sheryl Sculley).”

Chamber President Richard Perez last night responded with a statement:

“We see hopeful signs that the parties are moving back to the negotiating table. The Chamber’s involvement has been to work to produce that result and we will continue to serve in that role. We know that this is what would be best for all citizens.”

The City Council governance committee next week will consider a Request for Council Consideration memo from five members, not a majority but enough to get an item on the agenda, that the Council instruct Sculley to drop her lawsuit against the police and fire unions seeking to have the so called ‘Evergreen Clause’ thrown out. A City victory would compel the police and fire associations to return to the bargaining table because it would leave them without a contract.

Taylor also pointed out that Council at the work session in Wednesday will consider figures from independent auditors which will spell out in detail the costs of the pubic safety workers ‘zero premium’ health benefits to the City. Sculley says they are responsible for public safety costs taking up 66% of the total General Fund budget, while the unions say the figure is closer to 36%.

Meanwhile, a trial balloon is being floated at City Hall which may be a compromise which could lead to talks being restarted.

The proposal: that the city should negotiate an end to ‘zero premium’ health benefits for all future police and firefighters, instead of trying to ‘take away’ benefits from existing workers. Supporters of that compromise say it would achieve the same goal of reducing the city’s long term costs, while not ‘stripping existing workers of benefits they have come to expect.’ They also say the police and fire unions would be unlikely to be as zealous in protecting benefits of people who are not year police officers or firefighters, and are not members of the unions.

http://www.woai.com/articles/woai-local-news-sponsored-by-five-119078/trial-balloon-floated-at-city-hall-13179664/