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Over 1,200 Days And Counting: Fire Union Contract Still Lacks Resolution

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association President Chris Steele

Updated 3:30 p.m. on March 27: In response to Mr. Steele's comments on "The Source" today, City Attorney Andy Segovia issued the following statement: 

“There was nothing illegal about what the City did today. We advised the union we would be making a proposal on wages and healthcare, and for the 11th time they refused to meet. We welcome the union’s feedback at a scheduled bargaining session.”  

Updated 11:20 a.m. on March 27: The City of San Antonio offered a health care and wage contract proposal to the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association on Tuesday morning. 

The proposal includes a 12 percent increase in wages through 2021 and offering zero dollar healthcare premiums for firefighters, but will not include spouses and children.

The current 10-year "evergreen clause" would be reduced to six months and the proposal eliminates the city’s contribution to the fire and police legal trust fund. The City of San Antonio does not plan to drop the ongoing lawsuit, contrary to the fire union's wishes. 

Although the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association's contract with the City of San Antonio expired in 2014, the two groups have yet to negotiate a renewal. 

The partnership continues to operate under a 10-year "evergreen clause," allowing uniformed employees in the San Antonio Fire Department to receive the same healthcare benefits without paying premiums until 2024. Firefighters have not received wage increases since the contract expired.

The fire union declined to appear at a meeting earlier this month that was the City's tenth attempt at negotiations. It later stated that the union will not come to the table unless the City drops a lawsuit regarding the collective bargaining agreement,which is still slated to appear before the Texas Supreme Court. 

Mayor Ron Nirenberg has beenvocalabout the fire union's methods towards gathering petitions in order to reform the city charter, which would influence the negotiation's outcome. 

How is the extended tug-of-war affecting firefighting services? With both parties firmly standing their ground, is compromise even a possibility?


"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. Leave a voicemail with your questions and comments in advance by calling 210-615-8982.

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Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.