Firefighters Union Extends Talks in Effort to Avoid Mediation
The firefighters union is expected to declare an impasse in a push toward arbitration concerning its contract negotiations with the City of San Antonio. The declaration would automatically trigger binding arbitration per Proposition C as a result of the city requesting mediation.
The City of San Antonio accepted the union’s proposal to extend negotiations for 15 more days which it requested via letter, but it made a proposal for utilizing the services of a third-party mediator and suggested a former Texas Supreme Court Judge.
So far, negotiations have been described as chilly. Many involved have been frustrated by the process and everyone involved feels as if they can’t trust the other side.
According to the attorney representing the city, “We do believe, as I mentioned before, that proceeding with a mediator is the most effective and efficient way to make real progress. Clearly, simply doing what we have been doing over the past ten sessions leaves no reasonable expectation of resolution.”
The two sides have the option of entering mediation instead of using arbitration if they both agree to the process. The union also has the option of taking the matter to court and allowing a judge to make the final decision on contract terms. They also have the unilateral authority to requesting binding arbitration. The difference between mediation and arbitration is that arbitration would force both sides to abide by whatever decision the arbitrator declared. Mediation would allow for more flexibility and leave control in the hands of the city and the union – they would need to compromise and agree on a contract.