Po­lice union ready to re-en­ter con­tract talks

Ne­go­ti­at­ing team ready to make ‘sub­stan­tive pro­pos­als,’ leader says.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Mark Wil­son md­wil­son@states­man.com Union

The Austin po­lice union is ready to re-en­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions for a new con­tract with the city, in­terim City Man­ager Elaine Hart in­formed City Coun­cil mem­bers Mon­day.

In a letter to Hart on Fri­day, Austin Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Ken Casa­day said the group had se­lected its ne­go­ti­at­ing team. They will re­turn to talks when the city has se­lected its own team and is ready to “make sub­stan­tive pro­pos­als, both eco­nomic and non-eco­nomic,” he said.

“We would hope that the par­ties can reach another mu­tual agree­ment that meets the needs of our cit­i­zens, city man­age­ment, elected of­fi­cials and APD of­fi­cers, and that such agree­ment would be rat­i­fied by both as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers and the mayor and coun­cil,” Casa­day said in his letter.

The union also asked city lead­ers not to re­duce pay and ben­e­fits for po­lice of­fi­cers while a new con­tract is worked up.

For the time be­ing, of­fi­cers are op­er­at­ing un­der rules laid out by Texas’ lo­cal gov­ern­ment code, which lim­its how Austin po­lice can han­dle hir­ing, pro­mo­tions and pay for of­fi­cers. The code does not in­clude over­sight and ac­count­abil­ity mea­sures that had been hashed out be­tween the city and po­lice for pre­vi­ous con­tracts.

The City Coun­cil voted to send a con­tract that had been ne­go­ti­ated over the course of more than nine months back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble on Dec. 13 amid out­cry from ac­tivists who said the agree­ment did not pro­vide enough over­sight and ac­count­abil­ity for of­fi­cers. Coun­cil mem­bers also wor­ried about the new con­tract’s price tag.

On Jan. 23, Hart no­ti­fied mem­bers of the City Coun­cil that all op­er­a­tions of the Ci­ti­zen Re­view Panel, a civil­ian over­sight body charged with ex­am­in­ing cases of po­lice mis­con­duct, had been sus­pended after the pro­posed con­tract’s fail­ure.

On Dec. 28, a day be­fore the pre­vi­ous con­tract of­fi­cially ex­pired, 33 Austin po­lice of­fi­cers re­tired, al­low­ing them to col­lect pay for ac­cu­mu­lated sick time that they could have lost if they had stuck around.

NICK WAG­NER /

Mayor Steve Adler (left) and in­terim Po­lice Chief Brian Man­ley speak in De­cem­ber after the City Coun­cil post­poned a vote on a $82 mil­lion po­lice con­tract.

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