Propositions A, B & C – A Post Election Review

On November 6, 2018, two of the San Antonio Firefighter’s Union’s propositions passed and created an uncertain future for our city.  Prop A decreases the number of signatures needed to put new city rules on the ballot from 10 percent of registered voters, roughly 70,000 people, to exactly 20,000 signatures and collection time would be expanded from 40 to 180 days – it did not pass.

Prop B limits the tenure and compensation for future city managers.  City council votes to appoint a new city manager would expand from 50 to 67 percent; compensation cannot exceed the equivalent of 10 times the lowest paid full-time city employee; and the term is capped to eight years – this one passed.

Prop C allows the firefighter’s union to declare an impasse in contract negotiations with the city and force binding arbitration for a labor contract.  The union alone will decide when an impasse has been reached and call for arbitration – this one passed too.

Lots of discussions have abound on the election outcome.  Specifically, what lies ahead for San Antonio’s future?  Our bond rating could be affected and may require the city to pay higher interest rates on infrastructure project loans.  Current, or future, city projects could be cut backed or postponed to free up funds to pay the loans.

For Prop B, how is San Antonio going to find a good future city manager to replace Sheryl Sculley?  She announced she will retire June 2019.  During her tenure, she was able to do many great things for our city and secure triple “A” bond ratings for nine years straight.

With Prop C, the firefighter’s union will soon exert it’s new found power.  Will cities now become the new unions of the future?  Think recent LPAs and PSLs and soon to come, predictive scheduling, $15 minimum wage, city contract scoring matrix and more.

What can our industry do?  Well, be vigilant!  Presidents and owners need to know what is going on in our city government.  Additionally, arm yourself with knowledge.  Know and check the facts and become involved in SAMA’s governmental affairs committee.  Also, let your employees know what is being considered and how it may impact them or the company.  Lastly, encourage them to vote regardless of their party affiliation or political beliefs.  With knowledge, they will know how best to vote.  We all need to keep this in mind in the May 2019 city elections.

From our perspective, a wait and see posture will be the norm in 2019 as we will gauge San Antonio’s future and its relationship with our industry.  No doubt, rough seas await us all.

Rey Chavez, President & CEO, SAMA