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San Antonio

San Antonio Voters Will Decide If Police Should Keep Their Collective Bargaining Power

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Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio
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Two San Antonio Police Officers stand in the street near the path of a protest on June 3, 2020.

San Antonio's May election ballot will include a choice to repeal collective bargaining for San Antonio’s police officers. San Antonio’s city clerk certified the measure — organized by Fix SAPD — reached the state mandated 20,000 signature threshold to be included on the ballot.

If successful the measure will repeal Chapter 174, which was originally passed in 1974 by San Antonio voters. It allows police and fire employees to collectively bargain their contracts over healthcare, salaries, disciplinary procedures and more.

Protections in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) include allowing accused police officers to view all evidence before being interviewed by internal affairs. Disciplinary action is only allowed to be taken if it is within 180 days of the misconduct. A 48-hour notice for accused officers is also allowed before they have to give a statement when misconduct is investigated.

More to the story: To Protect And Arbitrate: A Look At San Antonio's Police Disciplinary Protections And Criticisms

James Dykman, board member for Fix SAPD, said voters should have a say on whether police officers should be allowed to bargain what goes into their contracts.

“The movement’s always been about giving San Antonians a voice and a choice about police accountability and we find it’s only possible to do that by repealing this law,” said Dykman.

In response, the San Antonio Police Officers Association said between now and election day it would inform voters about the importance of collective bargaining and the impact it has in “recruiting top-notch police officers who will keep our neighborhoods safe and to ensuring the Police Chief and the City continue to have flexibility in hiring, promotions, discipline, and boosting diversity within the Department.”

More to the story: San Antonio Police Officers Association Denounces Police Reform Petitions With SAPD Chief Present

Fix SAPD submitted about 26,000 signatures, however the clerk stops counting after the requirement is met.

The push for 174’s repeal was initially part of a piece-meal package that included repealing Chapter 143 as well. Chapter 143 allows for civil service protections and grants officers the right to arbitration.

Fix SAPD would have needed to submit close to 80,000 signatures in order to put Chapter 143’s repeal on the ballot. That’s about 10% of registered voters in the city of San Antonio by the last municipal election in May of 2019. Those signatures have a shelf life of 180 days, however. After the 180th day since it was signed, that voter’s signature can no longer be submitted.

City Council must add the Chapter 174 repeal to the ballot by next Thursday. Fix SAPD plans to submit the needed signatures for the repeal of Chapter 143 by the November election.

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