The Austin Chronicle

Austin Police Association, City Nearing Deal

Wages at issue for union after oversight concessions

By Nina Hernandez, October 20, 2017, News

The city and Austin Police Association got back to bargaining on Oct. 11, after an extended delay while a key negotiator was out of town. Both sides hoped the process would go smoothly, but the city's wage proposal – issued last week – caught the union off-guard, and the two sides went back into talks this week (a second meeting is scheduled for Thursday) with the goal of agreeing to terms and avoiding mediation, which could take place next week.

City Labor Relations Officer Larry Watts praised the union for the concessions it had made in oversight: 1) letting complainants know why an officer wasn't sanctioned in a case; 2) abandoning the requirement that complaints be sworn; 3) allowing Police Monitor Deven Desai to bring anonymous complaints to APD Internal Affairs. "I give [the APA] much credit for having listened to the community, and ... our negotiating team, and having made what I would call significant concessions regarding state law that allows the city to do more things than would otherwise be the case," said Watts.

Those terms agreed to, the APA went into Wednesday's session ready to collect on their concessions. APA President Ken Casaday is asking for a 2-3% pay increase per year over the next five years, the same increase he anticipates other city employees will receive over that time. "We're making adjustments to put in a lot of the stuff the activist organizations have wanted in our contract, and we're going to be paid for it," he leveled. "And if we're not going to be paid for it, then we're not going to do it."

Watts reminded that civilian employees don't enjoy the same protections police officers do under civil service law, and this week cautioned that the city isn't finished negotiating. They want to know where the union stands on a few other areas of the contract before it makes its final offer, primarily changes to the 180-day statute on disciplinary action and the policy that allows officers to reduce suspensions of less than three days to written reprimands (which are not public) after two years of service.

Check the Chronicle’s Daily News for updates.

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