SA Police Officers’ union sues over city’s refusal to obey huge arbitration decision
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association (SAPOA) announced that it was suing the City of San Antonio over the City’s refusal to obey a previous arbitration decision. This lawsuit is another example of City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s power struggles with any person or group that dares to challenge her authority. Even it means ignoring contracts and legal rulings.
The lawsuit comes about a month after city voters passed Proposition C which amended the city charter to allow the Firefighters union the right to go to binding arbitration when there is an impasse on contract negotiations. Proposition C was the result of Sculley’s refused to negotiate with the Firefighters’ union.
SAPOA filed their lawsuit against the City of San Antonio, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, and Police Chief William McManus. The lawsuit asks the Court to bring the City into compliance with a January 8, 2018 arbitration ruling stating that the City’s decision to replace sworn SAPD Officers with non-sworn civilian employees in the SAPD’s Off Duty Employment Unit (the “ODEU”) violates terms of the SAPOA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Article 39 of the CBA lists nine department units that can be staffed by civilians but does not mention the ODEU as one them. The CBA states that sworn officers will fill ODEU positions.
By replacing police officers with hand-picked civilian employees, the San Antonio City Hall Establishment wants to stack the ODEU against SAPOA. The Firefighters union and SAPOA have often questioned and challenged Sculley’s management, and she has responded with legal action against both.
Mike Helle, President of SAPOA, said, “The refusal of the city manager and the police chief to abide by the arbitrator’s ruling is just another example of their contempt towards our legally binding contract.”
Oddly, Sculley claimed her attempt to replace officers with civilians was necessary to annex areas of south San Antonio and to add six new officers to the South patrol. That argument has not been fully explained, however.
The SAPOA lawsuit is asking the City to comply with the January 8, 2018 ruling by the Arbitrator, Richard F. Dole, Jr., who stated that SAPOA’s grievance was “proven” and that “the City is to correct its violation.” However, it appears the City management seems to be more interested in winning a power struggle with SAPOA than in honoring the SAPOA contract, or in following the law.
Three weeks after the voters passed Proposition C regarding arbitration and the firefighters, and the City dropped a similar lawsuit against them which was caused by the City’s refusal to negotiate or go to arbitration. The 4th Circuit Court had previously ruled against Sculley and awarded the Firefighters’ union attorneys’ fees (an expense to the taxpayers), but the City persisted in their lawsuit.
Sadly, it appears the City’s management and elected leaders didn’t learn their lesson with the Firefighters, because here they go again with SAPOA. To quote Bob Dylan song, “When will they ever learn? The answer is blowing in the wind.”
George Rodriguez, El Conservador