San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor has said that name-calling would get the city and public safety unions nowhere in the ongoing negotiations for uniform healthcare and benefits.
Taylor, though, has offered an olive branch of sorts, in the hope of reaching a compromise with the unions. She called for a cooling off period — a holiday truce — from the widespread attack ads and harsh rhetoric that have marked the negotiations with city unions over healthcare and other benefits.
The mood was epitomized by an ad that saw the San Antonio Police Officer's Association go on the offensive against the city manager.
The commercial stated in part: “Sheryl Sculley thinks that the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday for you and your family are overcompensated.”
Both sides have worked with actuaries on healthcare, said Taylor. She proposed a new strategy.
“What I want to see happen is to have a third party that everyone feels comfortable with, to look at the numbers from both sides," she said Monday at a news conference. "They provide a verification of the facts and that can be used as a baseline for continued discussion and hopefully, move us forward to having a contract.”
There's no word on how much that would cost, but Taylor figured that the city would bear the brunt of the cost. The mayor agreed that the involvement of a third party report wouldn’t necessarily help both sides come to an agreement, but she did add: “All reasonable people would be able to then determine what a way forward is.”
Police union president, Mike Helle, responded to the mayor's announcement by saying an actual good faith effort for a holiday truce would have been to withdraw the city's lawsuit, and for city leaders to also cease its attacks against the unions.
The suit is seeking to determine the constitutionality of the evergreen clause in police contracts. Te clause keeps police and fire benefits going during negotiations because their contracts expire at the end of September.
Taylor said she hasn't discussed pulling the lawsuit because she thinks the clause makes negotiations difficult.