SAN ANTONIO — Since 2014, the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, Local 624, has been operating under an expired contract. Per an evergreen clause that allows them to remain on the job, firefighters have had continuing health care benefits, but no raises.

The union's scored a win in the November 2018 election when voters narrowly approved Proposition C, requiring the city to participate in binding arbitration when contract disputes arise with the Professional Firefighters Association. On Tuesday, the Firefighter's Union invoked that right.

In a statement, the City of San Antonio announced that the union broke off mediation negotiations with the City and called for arbitration. A spokesperson for the city said it will keep negotiations confidential, adding that the city "offered a generous, affordable and balanced compensation and health care proposal that would have maintained our firefighters as the best compensated in the state."

“While we will continue to focus our efforts on developing a budget for Council consideration that meets the City’s needs in light of current fiscal constraints,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “The Firefighter’s Union elected to pursue arbitration—we will prepare for that process.  We remain committed to reaching a collective bargaining agreement that is fair to our employees and fiscally responsible for our taxpayers.” 

The City of San Antonio’s negotiating team has met with the Fire Union 19 times since they agreed to come to the bargaining table in February, the city said. After ten meetings, the parties agreed to mediation on April 17 to facilitate a more productive dialogue.