Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

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Jose Chito Vela
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:16 am

Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Jose Chito Vela »

Colleagues,

As you know, the City and the Austin Police Association are negotiating over a new contract. However, the March 31, 2023, expiration date of the current contract is rapidly approaching. About 250 APD officers are currently eligible to retire and face a February 26 deadline to file for retirement without potentially losing significant retirement-related benefits if the current meet and confer agreement ends without extension or replacement. The uncertainty surrounding the contract could lead these officers to retire early in order to preserve their benefits, resulting in the unnecessary loss of critical personnel. If the contract expires without any short- or long-term replacement, we also lose the oversight provisions, including the Office of Police Oversight.

At this late date, there is no proposed contract for us to review. We know that negotiations continue on major elements of the contract. We also know that both the City and the APA have represented they support oversight along the lines of the May ballot initiatives. The Austin City Charter guarantees the people the right to direct legislation; as elected representatives, it is our responsibility to protect the democratic process. To ensure that all parties can continue negotiating in good faith and achieve the best possible agreement, I am sponsoring a resolution directing the City Manager to negotiate a short-term contract for one year that extends and protects existing oversight provisions, officer pay and benefits, and respects the voters’ right to be heard.

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 114646.pdf

Otherwise, we risk being rushed into adopting a contract that neither our constituents nor rank-and-file APD officers have had the opportunity to read or understand. Even worse, a problematic contract could short-circuit the democratic process and prevent the will of the voters from being implemented for years to come.

We cannot miss this chance to have an effective and professional police force that meets the highest standards of integrity. Policing is one of the biggest and most costly responsibilities of the City. We must give all parties the breathing room necessary to do what is right, which requires urgent action to provide continuity, stability, and predictability for the public and our officers. The short-term contract with EMS is a good example of a stop-gap measure that allowed us to address immediate personnel needs while allowing negotiations to continue. I hope you will join me and my co-sponsors in supporting this resolution.


Saludos,

Chito
Vanessa Fuentes
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2021 9:02 am

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Vanessa Fuentes »

Thank you, CM Vela, for bringing this item forward. I agree that extending our current police contract would benefit all parties involved. Austinites deserve to feel safe and assured that our police are held to the highest standard possible. At the same time, our officers deserve stability as negotiations toward an agreement continue.

I look forward to further conversation on this matter as a full council.

Yours in community,
Vanessa
Council Member, District 2
Zo Qadri
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2023 12:46 pm

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Zo Qadri »

I appreciate Councilmember Vela for bringing this item forward.

The one year extension is what I believe is best for all sides. It not only gives Austinites the opportunity to have their voices heard during a vote in May but also gives our officers stability and transparency as we work towards a contract.

Best
Zo
Council Member, District 9
Jose Velasquez
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2023 2:35 pm

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Jose Velasquez »

I am happy to be a co-sponsor on this critical and pressing matter. This item can provide the much-needed time to ensure we reach the best possible outcome for our constituents and officers.

Thank you, Council Member Vela, for bringing this item forward.

Best,
CM Velásquez
Council Member, District 3
Colleen Pate
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2023 1:22 pm

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Colleen Pate »

Colleagues,

At the council meeting this Thursday, I am offering an amendment to Item 80, a resolution concerning bargaining for a meet and confer labor contract with the Austin Police Association.

My priorities for this contract are to accomplish the following:
1. Preserve the ability of Austin voters to weigh-in on the future of police oversight in the May 2023 ordinance elections.
2. Protect the citizen oversight provisions that have been created over the last 25 years but would be lost if the City and the Police Association cannot reach an agreement before March 31.
3. Provide certainty and clarity to Austin’s police officers – especially our most experienced officers that might retire or leave the department with labor uncertainty.

My amendment outlines many of the financial terms I hope to see in a one-year contract. We need a significant financial commitment. I believe this incentivizes police officers to support a one-year contract and reveals our commitment to ensuring appropriate staffing levels in our police department.

I believe CM Vela’s resolution and my amendment are vital in demonstrating the City’s commitment to protecting oversight and transparency, improving public safety, and providing certainty to our police officers and their families.

I look to forward to having this discussion on Thursday.

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 182331.pdf

Kirk

On behalf of Mayor Watson
Chief of Staff, Mayor Watson's Office
Ryan Alter
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2023 3:15 pm

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Ryan Alter »

Colleagues,

Thank you for putting these ideas forward. I would like to add an additional proposal that I intend to offer at tomorrow’s meeting: http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 100848.pdf

I believe it is worthwhile for the negotiators to have an opportunity to reach a 4-year deal and present it to us for review. However, this will not happen if we cut off negotiations tomorrow in passing this resolution as is.

I believe a 4-year deal that achieves the goals of the APOA while also strengthening the ability to recruit and retain officers is within reach. To that end, my amendment would allow for the negotiating team to have until Wednesday, February 15, 2023, to reach such a deal for our review. Should no deal be reached by that point, they would then be instructed under this resolution to change gears and pursue a 1-year contract.

Meaningful oversight is not incompatible with creating an environment at APD where officers will want to work and serve their community. We have the opportunity to reach a long-term deal that does just that, and we should at least have the chance to review such a deal before jettisoning months of negotiations in favor of a 1-year deal that would in all likelihood be worse both in terms of oversight and stability of our police force.

I look forward to our continued discussion on this matter.

Ryan
Council Member, District 5
Jose Chito Vela
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:16 am

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Jose Chito Vela »

Mayor Watson - thank you for offering your amendment. I support it and will accept it as a friendly amendment. We have very little time left to reach an agreement. Your changes will help us get a 1-year contract that allows the public to vote on the petitions and keeps our police officers under contract with their benefits fully intact.

Chito
Colleen Pate
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2023 1:22 pm

Re: Short-Term Extension of Police Contract

Post by Colleen Pate »

Council,
Please see amendment to Council Member Vela’s resolution.

http://assets.austintexas.gov/austincou ... 170233.pdf

Kirk

On behalf of Mayor Watson
Chief of Staff, Mayor Watson's Office
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