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By August 25, 2017 Read More →

Court Deems Evergreen Clause Constitutional

Chris Steele, president of the firefighters union, says he doesn’t understand why the city can keep wasting taxpayer money.

As the city continues to assert that a portion of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association’s collective-bargaining agreement is unconstitutional, they’re not only running out of options in their legal fight but money as well.

Recently, the 4th Court of Appeals in Texas ruled against the city which argued that the “Evergreen Clause,” which keeps a contract intact for up to a decade after its initial expiration dates, violates the Texas Constitution and public policy. It was the third loss for the city.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Manager Sheryl Sculley say the city will proceed with the fight. They believe they will win the battle once the case gets before the Texas Supreme Court.

The city has asked the union to come to the table and negotiate the issue on 9 separate occasions but Chris Steele, president of the Firefighters union, says his team “will not negotiate with a gun to our heads” and that they will not come back to the bargaining until the city drops its lawsuit against them.

City lawyers filed a suit in November 2014, which was less than two months after the firefighter’s agreement initially expired. A similar suit had been filed against the San Antonio Police Officer’s Association, but they were able to strike a deal on a new contract last year.

Steele and his union are celebrating the victory, but remain diligent in their fight and warn of dire ramifications should the city be successful.

“We have been on record to say that if the city would just drop that lawsuit, then we would go to the table to negotiate within 30 days,” Steele said, adding that the union is now offering an “olive branch” and would begin negotiations within a week. “I don’t understand why they continue to waste the taxpayer dollars.”

Councilman Greg Brockhouse has been a strong advocate for San 
Antonio employees. He is calling on his colleagues to do the right thing and have a public vote on the matter.

“Including the lawsuit against the Police Officer’s Association, the City has now lost on this issue three times in Court and wasted almost a million taxpayer dollars doing so,” Brockhouse said in a statement. “The full City Council should review this course of action and go on the record in a public vote on continuing the lawsuit to the Texas Supreme Court.”


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