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Laura Mayes, (210) 207-1337
SAN ANTONIO (January 20, 2021) – At today's B Session of the San Antonio City Council, City staff briefed the Council on the process, timeline and City's goals for negotiating the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA). The City and SAPOA have agreed to meet on February 12, 2021 allowing for the transition of the Association's new president. The first meeting will establish ground rules for the negotiations. Once negotiations begin, the two parties have a 60-day period to negotiate in good faith a new contract that would take effect when the current CBA expires September 30, 2021.
"Our top priority is accountability and discipline – rebalancing the longstanding provisions in the contract that have undermined the Police Chief's authority to discipline officers – while staying in alignment with City's Financial policies and current economic conditions brought on by the pandemic," said City Manager Erik Walsh. "As in the past, the negotiations will be transparent and open to the public, and we expect high interest given the ongoing community dialogue about policing. The vast majority of SAPD officers serve and protect our community with honor and dignity, and I wish to personally recognize and thank them for their professionalism."
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The City's goals for collective bargaining include the following:
- Allow the Chief of Police to impose discipline up to 180 days from the date the Chief knew or should have known about the incident. The current contract allows the Chief to impose discipline up to 180 days from the date of the violation, whether or not the Chief or Department knew about the misconduct, a technicality that has led to the reinstatement of fired officers. The City seeks to ensure that the 180-day rule applies to the discovery of alleged misconduct, as currently provided for in the collective bargaining agreement with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association.
- Consider all past conduct for disciplinary actions. The current contract includes statutes of limitation for types of past misconduct that the Chief may consider while imposing discipline (10 years for drug and alcohol violations; 5 years for intentional violence violations; and 2 years for other misconduct.) The City seeks to ensure that all past conduct may be considered when disciplining officers.
- Modify timelines in disciplinary process. The current contract gives officers 48 hours advanced notice of an investigation into alleged misconduct, the opportunity for the accused officer to review all evidence and to take home interrogatories – the investigator's questions – to answer them. The City seeks to ensure a level playing field for Internal Affairs investigators.
- Maintain officers right to appeal discipline – but only to review the facts. The current contract allows a third-party arbitrator to change the level of discipline imposed by the Chief, even if the facts of the alleged misconduct are sustained upon appeal. The City seeks to limit the arbitrator's review to whether or not the City proved the facts of the case, leaving the final decision on the appropriate level of discipline to the Police Chief and City Manager.
- Establish annual performance evaluations for officers. The current contract does not allow for performance evaluations to be considered in promotions. The City seeks to establish a promotion process that includes officers' annual evaluations and consideration of officers' past performance.
Additionally, the City seeks to maintain public safety spending at less than 66 percent of the General Fund budget, consistent with City Council-approved financial policies. The City also seeks to make operational improvements that allow the City, as the employer, to determine scheduling, work hours, leave policies and civilianization of SAPD employees for assignments that do not require arrest powers.
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Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez will serve as lead negotiator, and First Assistant City Attorney Liz Provencio will serve as lead attorney. Other City staff will join team based on their area of expertise.
Once the City and union reach a tentative agreement, the contract must be ratified by at least 50 percent of the SAPOA membership and approved by a majority of the City Council.
More information about collective bargaining, including past agreements and scheduled meetings, can be found at https://www.sanantonio.gov/City-Attorney/CollectiveBargaining.
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