Court ordered mediation in the next step in the standoff between the San Antonio Police Officers Association and the City over the legality of the Evergreen Clause in the 2011 contract, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The 4th Texas Court of Appeals issued the order on the same day briefs were due in the lawsuit filed by the City challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Evergreen Clause, which allows the terms of the contract which expired in October of 2014 to remain in force until 2024.
The City says it also field briefs in its attempt to get the Evergreen Clause thrown out. A State District Court rejected the city’s demand, and it is appealing.
A Mediator approved by the City and the SAPOA and approved by the court will try to resolve the lawsuit.
Negotiations broke down in September of 2015 over the city’s Evergreen Clause lawsuit. The Union says it will not bargain while the party it is bargaining with is suing it, and has demanded that the lawsuit be dropped. The City says as soon as a new contract is agreed upon, the current Evergreen Clause will be moot.
Evergreen Clauses are common in contracts with public safety unions in Texas, where it is illegal for public employees to strike. The existence of an Evergreen Clause, which allows the terms of a current contract to remain in force is negotiations on a new agreement are not completed at the expiration of the current contract prevent ‘blue flu’ and other job actions which could accompany contentious negotiations.
The City claims a ten year Evergreen Clause allows the SAPOA to decline to bargain on the city’s insistence that the Police Officers’ ‘zero premium’ health care plans be rewritten to require the officers to pay a portion of their coverage, as is required of civilian City employees and of virtually every employee in the private sector.