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San Antonio drops ‘evergreen’ lawsuit, eyes turn to fire union

November 29, 2018

The city of San Antonio notified the San Antonio Professional Fire Fighters Association on Thursday that it has officially dropped the lawsuit that the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear over the summer.

The dismissal of the suit sets the stage for contract negotiations to begin more than four years after the fire union’s contract initially expired.

Union leaders did not return phone calls seeking comment, but President Chris Steele has maintained since the city filed its lawsuit in the fall of 2014 that he would begin negotiations within seven days of the suit being dropped.

The union’s top ally on the City Council — Greg Brockhouse — called for negotiations in the days after voters passed a charter amendment on Nov. 6 that gives the union the unilateral ability to call for binding arbitration on contract negotiations.

The city’s motion to dismiss its suit comes hours after City Manager Sheryl Sculley announced that she plans to retire in 2019. Sculley said she will stay on and help with the transition to her successor but will end her 13-year career with the city no later than June 30.

She was the consistent force behind the city’s lawsuit, which alleged that its contract with the fire union violated the Texas Constitution and public policy because of its “evergreen” clause, which keeps the agreement intact for up to a decade after it expires while a new one is negotiated.

The city’s arguments at the district court and appeals court levels were unsuccessful. City officials, including Sculley and Mayor Ron Nirenberg, steadfastly said they expected to win the case at the Texas Supreme Court, but the justices handed a final blow to San Antonio this summer when they declined to hear the case.

Josh Baugh is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | jbaugh@express-news.net | Twitter: @jbaugh

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