SAN ANTONIO — The City of San Antonio discussed the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the police officers union and voted 8-3 to approve the five-year agreement in Thursday’s meeting.
Councilmember Mario Bravo, Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Councilmember Teri Castillo were the 'no' votes.
The San Antonio Police Officers Association says the new contract would bring higher wages, healthcare stability and updated accountability practices.
After the vote, Mayor Ron Nirenberg says the city achieved the goals for this new contract, and negotiations were a complete change to how they were done in the past.
"Today is a brand new day with regard to contracts in the public safety departments for the city of San Antonio, which frankly, we've been trying to achieve for 35 years," Mayor Nirenberg said.
For disciplinary issues, here are some of the changes under the new CBA according to city documents.
A third-party arbitrator may not overturn the chief’s decision to fire an officer unless the chief fails to prove the misconduct is detrimental to the department or doesn’t meet community expectations.
Chief William McManus expressed his frustration with arbitrators essentially undoing the work that justified his decision.
“To overturn the decision that the chief makes, that I make, after a thorough investigative process, after advice from counsel, after input from the CARB, how that could happen was frustrating to all of us,” Chief McManus said.
The CARB, or the citizen advisory review board—was one reason why advocates did not want city council to approve the contract.
Groups like ACT 4 SA, which spoke during Thursday’s meeting—say the CARB is not a truly independent body and additional oversight is needed.
Ananda Tomas, executive director of ACT 4 SA says there’s room for future reform.
“Looking long term, I do think we did get a win here from the robust conversation that happened, I hope either a council-driven initiative or a community-driven initiative does spring out of this,” Tomas said.
Councilwoman Ana Sandoval felt a no vote would undo the progress made over a year of negotiations.
Danny Diaz, president of the San Antonio Police Officers Association says the contract negotiations were a vast improvement compared to previous collective bargaining sessions.
“We have to keep an open mind because I’ll tell you, the way things were done in the past of being at each other, that doesn’t work, we have to be able to sit down and talk,” Diaz said.
In April, SAPOA members overwhelmingly voted to ratify the new contract with the city, but advocates calling for police reform believe there is room for improvement.
ACT 4 SA has said the CARB is not truly independent because it's subject to collective bargaining.
The group asked for city council to vote against the CBA. Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez said on Wednesday he would vote "no" to continue negotiations.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said last month it is a fair contract that address concerns over disciplinary procedures while giving officers fair pay and benefits.
“The City Council’s approval of the agreement and the overwhelming support from rank-and-file officers are a clear demonstration that we are in a new era of cooperation between the City and SAPOA,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg in a statement from the City. “I commend City Manager Erik Walsh, Deputy City Manager Maria Villagomez, City Attorney Andy Segovia, First Assistant City Attorney Liz Provencio and SAPOA President Danny Diaz and his team for the smooth, professional negotiations leading to this agreement. I also want to thank community members who helped shape our initial negotiation goals.”
In considering prior discipline, all of an officer’s history can be considered for disciplinary action. Under the old agreement, there was a 2 to 10 year limit on past discipline that could be considered.
The new CBA also changes the time limit on when discipline can be issued. The new agreement says the chief will be able to impose discipline up to 180 days after the chief knew or should have known about an incident. Under the old agreement, punishment must be issued 180 days from the date the incident occurred.
The new contract increases pay, offers expanded healthcare and increases the number of training hours required.
The San Antonio Police Department will have the second-highest pay rate among Texas cities, only behind Austin.
Officers will receive a 15% wage increase over five years and a one-time bonus of 2% within 30 days after the contract is approved. Wages will increase across the board by 3.5% in 2023 and 2024, while wages will increase by 4% in 2025 and in 2026.
According to the contract, officers, SAPD officers will be required to complete up to 120 hours of training per year. Officers will have a new family leave benefit which includes up to 160 hours of family leave after the birth of a child, adoption or foster. No family leave benefit was available under the old contract.
The agreement will remain in effect through September 2026.
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