This article has been updated.
On May 1, San Antonio voters will decide if they want to take away collective bargaining rights for San Antonio’s police union. On April 8, the KSAT/San Antonio Report/Bexar Facts partnership will host a discussion with leaders of the union, a policing reform group, and City of San Antonio attorney to dissect the impacts of Proposition B.
Seeking reform of disciplinary procedures against problem police officers, Fix SAPD gathered enough petition signatures to place the proposition on the May ballot. It’s one of two propositions being decided as voters got to the polls beginning April 19 to choose a mayor and City Council members.
If approved by voters, Prop B would repeal Chapter 174 of the Texas Local Government Code and halt current negotiations.
Activists pushing for repeal say that the collective bargaining process is flawed and the resulting contract provisions allow cops fired for misconduct to get back on the force. Union leaders say repeal would result in fewer protections and benefits for police officers that will lead to a reduction of the workforce. The City, meanwhile, is currently negotiating a new contract “in good faith” with the union. Its top priority is improving the appeals process for police officers who are punished for misconduct.
Panelists include Sgt. Rachel Barnes, a licensed attorney and member of the San Antonio Police Officers Association’s contract negotiation team; James Dykman, data and policy analyst for Fix SAPD; and City Attorney Andy Segovia.
Union President Danny Diaz had been scheduled to participate, but he withdrew because of a scheduling conflict. Liz Provencio, a City attorney who serves on the team negotiating with the union on a new contract, is no longer participating in the panel.
“Prop B on this year’s City election ballot is a stark reminder of why local elections matter, why people should turn out to vote,” said Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Report. “Ballot initiatives are understandably more complex for voters who otherwise are voting for or against individual candidates, so we hope our coverage, our debate, and our commitment to civic engagement with our partners at KSAT-TV and Bexar Facts helps motivate registered voters to turn out and make an educated choice on a very important issue.”
Much of the panel conversation will be informed by the results of the latest nonpartisan KSAT/San Antonio Report/Bexar Facts poll to be released on April 6. In addition to questions about a range of local issues, the poll specifically asked voters how they would vote on Prop B.