Fire union and city ordered to mediation over labor contract


SAN ANTONIO — A Bexar County appeals court has ordered the city of San Antonio and the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association to mediation, according to a city press release.

The court ordered that the two sides must select a mediator within a week, or the justices will pick for them, the release says.

The collective-bargaining agreement between San Antonio and the labor union, which dictates wages and health care, among other things, expired on Sept. 30, 2014, but remains in “evergreen.” That means the vast majority of the contract, absent wage increases, stays in effect for up to a decade if it isn’t replaced by a new contract.

This summer, the San Antonio Police Officers Association and the city went through court-ordered mediation and agreed on a new contract, which is now in effect. That came after a few years of on-again, off-again negotiations.

The fire union has yet to begin its own negotiations.

The 4th Court of Appeals is hearing a challenge to a district court ruling against the city. A district judge had ruled against the city’s claims that the evergreen clause violated public policy and the Texas Constitution. The city’s appeal is pending as the court has ordered mediation.

“This is progress for the city, our taxpayers and the fire personnel who work hard to serve the San Antonio community,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley said in the press release. “We are happy the court recognized the city’s willingness to negotiate and ordered the union to come to the table.”

Chris Steele, president of the fire union, was not immediately available for comment.

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