Sculley, in Letter to Community Leaders, Blasts Firefighter Ballot Drive

City Manager Sheryl Sculley is now taking swings at the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association's plans for a petition drive to change the city charter, days after Mayor Nirenberg called signing the petition 'signing up for a tax increase,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Sculley, in a letter to community leaders, says the union campaign is not about 'letting the voters decide,' as the petition gatherers claim, but it is about 'attempting to tilt the playing field in their favor so as to avoid any compromise on their members' pay and benefits.'

"What the City is interested in is negotiating a contract with the fire union that is fair to the employees and affordable to taxpayers," Sculley says.

The Firefighters Union is attempting to limit the pay and term of service of the City Manager, as well as requiring that all union disputes be handed by an arbitrator and not settled in court.

They also want to make it easier to amend the City Charter, reducing the number of signatures on petitions which have to be obtained, and the window in which the must be obtained.

Sculley says the Firefighters are refusing to come to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract to replace one that expired in 2014, because of her demand that the firefighters give up a cushy 'zero premium health insurance' benefit, meaning that, unlike all other City employees and virtually every other worker in America, they don't have to have premiums for health care policies for themselves and their dependents.

"Public safety spending has grown faster than General Fund revenues and threatens to consume 100% of the General Fund---crowding out streets, parks, libraries, and other City services, sometime between 2024 and 2041," Sculley writes.

The Firefighters have relied on a ten year 'Evergreen Clause' in the 2011 contract which requires that the provisions of the contract remain in force for ten years after the expiration date.  The City has gone to court, so far unsuccessfully, to try to have the Evergreen Clause, which it signed, declared unconstitutional.

A similar dispute with the San Antonio Police Officers Association ended with court ordered mediation which resulted in a new contract which traded 'zero premium' health care for a 17% raise over five years

."The City of San Antonio wants to reward its firefighter employees wit a pay raise," Sculley said in the letter.  "The City of San Antonio wants a contract that is fair to our firefighters and affordable to taxpayers.  The only way to achieve these goals is for the union to come to the table and negotiate."

The SAPFFA has grown adept at finding areas where it can divide city government as leverage in its contract talks.  The union led the 2015 effort to scrap the downtown streetcar plan.

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