Police contract negotiations
Today, I am listening and sitting in on the City of Austin’s negotiations with the police union (Austin Police Association) on the next contract which will set wages, community oversight and accountability policies of the Austin Police Department. Along with the fiscal components of this contract, these discussions are pivotal to ensuring our police are well positioned to keep Austin among the safest big cities in America while also ensuring the community has the oversight and accountability it needs to build trust in the relationship between all communities and our sworn officers. You can read more of my thoughts on public safety here.
The City is also set for negotiations with both our EMS and Firefighter unions, making these combined labor relations discussions paramount to maintaining safety and emergency preparedness in Austin, ensuring we have fully staffed public safety departments with ample wages to meet the demands in a city with declining affordability and housing optionality (something Council desperately needs to address) while also protecting our City’s strong fiscal position in the years ahead.
While each of these public safety unions are negotiating with the City, they are each very unique in their duties and roles in the community and how the City engages in these discussions. EMS, for example, has been the lowest paid (too low) for years yet handled much of our City’s emergency response to COVID-19 and various mental health related cases while Fire is often responding to calls related to senior citizens and pets.