Collective Bargaining on the Ballot
(TX) – A progressive reform group was successful in getting the required number of signatures on their petition to force the option to repeal the collective bargaining rights for the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). The initiative will be on the City of San Antonio’s May ballot. The initiative was in response to the excessive force, and inability and/or unwillingness of police departments to hold their people accountable.
But this vote is not going to do what people think it will. All this vote will affect is the collective bargaining portion of Chapter 174. According to KSAT 12, “This chapter, though, still contains some of the protections Fix SAPD has found objectionable.” Losing collective bargaining will mean that the union won’t be able to negotiate a contract for police officers.
The Importance of Collective Bargaining
While I understand the anger that pushed for this measure, it’s a mistake. Through the use of collective bargaining, unions have gotten employees safer working conditions, 40-hour work weeks, weekends off, overtime pay, retirement benefits and so much more. The loss of collective bargaining is a regressive action. Hurting employees is not the way to ensure accountability. Losing collective bargaining doesn’t hurt just the bad officers, it hurts all officers, and their families. If anything, we need to be working towards unionizing the civilian employees so they can get collective bargaining too.
Abuse of Power by Union Presidents
This overreaction is not surprising. There have been multiple examples of union presidents who are abusing their power and acting more like hate groups instead of employee support groups. One of their biggest problems is that they’ve gotten too political. It’s fine to show your support and donate to a specific candidate, but the commentary should be that you think this person is best for your people. There should not be attacks against a candidate.
The second problem is that unions are too quick to jump to the defense of an officer. There’s nothing wrong with saying you are going to wait for all the facts to come out. When the public sees union presidents immediately say, mere hours after an incident, that the officer was right even before we know all the facts, it tells the public that the union can’t be trusted.
Though not as bad as many others, the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) lost credibility in the eyes of the public due to actions and comments by its previous president. But SAPOA has a new president now. Hopefully Danny Diaz can rehabilitate the union’s reputation by moving away from an ‘us against them’ mentality.
Labor Unions Step in to Save Collective Bargaining
Fortunately, officers with the San Antonio Police Department, which is the ONLY agency affected by this initiative, don’t have to depend solely on their union to fight for them. According to the Express News,
“Alarmed by the idea of removing a fundamental tenet of the labor movement, the San Antonio Central Labor Council — a consortium of unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO and representing teachers, firefighters, state employees and construction workers, among other groups — is gearing up to oppose the measure.”
There can always be improvement, but it should be done in a smart way, not with a sledge hammer.