Police association votes to discontinue contract talks

AUSTIN – The Austin Police Association announced Tuesday it is no longer interested in negotiating a new contract with the City of Austin.

In a letter to Interim City Manager Elaine Hart - also posted on Facebook - the Austin Police Association said “we respectfully inform you that we do not believe that the City and Association can reach a new agreement within the remaining three 30-day extensions as provided for in our contract.”

This has several ramifications including changes to the Office of the Police Monitor.

"I think you can still have a monitor but they can no longer have a civilian review panel and the monitor will lose access to internal affairs files. Right now, they have unfettered access, they are every step of the way, part of the investigation but they will no longer be allowed to do that," said Ken Casaday, president of the Austin Police Association.

Casaday also said the APA will go back to the negotiating table once the city gets a new city manager, but even then it will be 4-6 months before that happens.

The vote was 92.2 percent in favor of not returning to the table to continue negotiations and revert to State Civil Service Law.

The existing contract between the city and Austin Police Association is set to expire at midnight Dec. 29. The full letter is below:

Dear interim City Manager Hart,

On behalf of the members of the Austin Police Association, we respectfully inform you that we do not believe that the City and Association can reach a new agreement within the remaining three 30-day extensions as provided for in our contract. It was evident from the statements of the Mayor and Council that our elected officials wanted to “reboot” negotiations and that the City and Association return to the bargaining table.

While the Association is disappointed that the mutually beneficial 5-year contract was not ratified by the Mayor and Council, we accept the democratic process that affords the Mayor and Council the right to ratify or not. The Association is prepared to return to the table to reach an agreement with the City anytime during 2018. We also want to stress that we believe both the City and the Association bargaining teams acted in good faith and negotiated in the best interests of the citizens of Austin.

Effective at midnight on December 29, 2017, the contract will expire and the Austin Police Department will revert to Texas Local Government Code Chapter 143 except for those provisions that were extended via the contract for twelve months (evergreen) to allow for continuity. We would request that the City maintain all pay, steps and special pays until such time as we reach a new agreement.

The men and women of the Austin Police Department will continue to provide service to our citizens in a professional manner. The Association is committed to working with the City to ensure a smooth transition from the current contract to Chapter 143 civil service. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Ron Delord

This story will be updated.

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