Court Orders City, Fire Union to Mediate Contract Dispute

An appeals court has ordered the City of San Antonio and the union representing it’s firefighters to mediate a continuing contract dispute.

The order from the Fourth Court of Appeals comes on the heels of the City appealing it’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “Evergreen Clause”–which would keep the terms of the now expired contract with the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association in effect for up to ten years.

The order calls on both parties to agree on a mediator within a week–or else one will be appointed by the Court. Both sides are also required to begin mediation within sixty days.

“We’ve been trying to get the fire union to come to the table and negotiate for three years,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley told KTSA News. She said the city reached out eight times in writing, but no meeting ever happened.

Fire union President Chris Steele told KTSA the union requested certain information from the city, but the city never handed it over.

“How are we supposed to negotiate a true and fair and honest healthcare arrangement where we pay our fair share if we don’t really know what the real numbers are,” he said. “We’re not going to believe what they say.”

He did say the union looks forward to mediation.

Sculley doesn’t know what a new contract might look like.

“It clearly will not be anything more than what the police received,” she said. “In fact, our approach to negotiation is ‘first in, best contract’.”

But, Sculley said mediation is progress and the city is approaching this as in a positive way.

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