Proposition B Information from the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area

Information excerpted from page 23 of the LWVSA Voters Guide Spring 2021

City of San Antonio – Proposition B 

Repeal of the adoption of the state law applicable to city of San Antonio police officers that establishes collective bargaining if a majority of the affected employees favor representation by an employees association, preserves the prohibition against strikes and lockouts, and provides penalties for strikes and lockouts. 

Background 

Currently, under Chapter 174 of Texas state law, cities are allowed to negotiate with police and firefighter unions through collective bargaining to determine compensation, hours, and other conditions of employment. Chapter 174 also contains a provision that prohibits strikes and lockouts and authorizes penalties for such activity. San Antonio and several other Texas cities use collective bargaining in police negotiations, while about the same number of other cities use a method called meet-and-confer. Some others do not have contracts with police unions. Explanation: 

A “For” vote on this proposition will repeal collective bargaining and remove the authority (awarded in a 1974 vote) of the San Antonio Police Officers Association to negotiate wages, benefits and policies with the city. 

An “Against” vote would keep collective bargaining and ensure that the San Antonio Police Officers Association will continue to represent officers in the negotiation of wages, benefits and policies with the city. 

ARGUMENTS FOR 

  • Ending collective bargaining is necessary to keep the police union from exercising too much influence on how officers accused of misconduct are disciplined. It will allow elected leaders to institute policing reforms and bargain effectively on wages, benefits and policies regarding how allegations of police misconduct should be handled. In the past 10 years, several officers fired for misconduct have been rehired through the arbitration process negotiated by the union. The current system puts the city at a disadvantage in its efforts to address changing realities. 
  • This measure would put the officers in a situation similar to that of teachers and other public servants who do not have the right to be represented by unions, requiring them to adopt an alternative negotiating process such as meet-and-confer. San Antonio currently has a meet-and-confer agreement with the San Antonio Park Police Officers Association. 

ARGUMENTS AGAINST 

  • Collective bargaining enables the union to negotiate policies, wages, healthcare and other benefits with the city. Loss of collective bargaining would make it more difficult to recruit and retain officers. 
  • It is also argued that issues of discipline are better handled during collective bargaining. 
  • Meet-and-confer negotiating method is nonbinding. Employers don’t have to participate. 
  • If the city does not agree to another method of bargaining, both the officers and the city would have to abide by the state’s employment laws for police officers, which would reduce local control.