Austin’s police union says it’s ready to resume contract negotiations after the City Council rejected a new five-year contract in December.
In an email to interim City Manager Elaine Hart, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said the union has selected a negotiation team and is ready to continue ironing out its labor agreement with the city.
Casaday wrote in the Jan. 26 email to Hart that the union is ready to "return to the bargaining table" and that the city is "in a position to make substantive proposals, both economic and non-economic" – including maintaining current pay for officers while the city and the union negotiate.
"The Association recognizes that the time needed to reach a new agreement is unknown at this time," Casaday wrote, "however, we would hope that the Mayor and Council do not reduce the pay and benefits of its officers during the meet and confer process as has been the practice of the City when there was no agreement with fire fighters or EMS employees."
Police and the city are currently operating without a labor agreement under provisions of the Texas Civil Service Statute.
Shortly after the city began renegotiating the contract last spring, Casaday told KUT that he didn’t expect any big changes in the contract. But, as talks drew on, Austin City Council members leveraged adopting more accountability and transparency measures against a possible increase in pay for officers. Austin’s police are currently the highest paid in the state. The proposed contract would have raised pay for officers by nearly 10 percent over the next five years, but it also sought to give more oversight to independent bodies like the Austin Police Monitor and the city’s Citizen’s Review Panel.
The Austin City Council rejected the contract – something it hadn’t done in the two decades of operating under these contracts.
The Austin Police Association then let the contract expire in late December, intimating the union would be open to “reboot” negotiations under incoming City Manager Spencer Cronk. Cronk is slated to start Feb. 12.