SAN ANTONIO - Local firefighters claimed a courtroom victory in an ongoing lawsuit with San Antonio, but negotiations to reach a contract agreement remain stalled.
On Wednesday, the Fourth Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association in a lawsuit that claims a key clause, also known as the evergreen clause, in the firefighters' contract is unconstitutional and hurting the city's bottom line.
The evergreen clause allows medical benefits and previous contract negotiations like health benefits to stay in place until 2024 even though the firefighters' agreement with the fire union expired in September of 2014.
Representatives with the firefighters association said that they want to keep control of their healthcare benefits, adding that a shift in control could impact their benefits.
However, Mayor Ron Nirenberg claims that the evergreen clause could force the city to provide benefits that overwhelm the city budget.
“It restricts our ability to provide other important city services,” the mayor said. “On behalf of public safety families and first responders, we have to get a contract that is fair and legal.”
“If the city drops the lawsuit now after our second win, then we are willing to go to the table and negotiate within seven days,” said Chris Steele, head of the SAFPA.
It’s unclear if the city will move forward with the lawsuit, but City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Mayor Nirenberg are recommending that the city appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court.
This move could delay any chance of reaching an agreement in the near future.
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