Proposition B, which would repudiate collective bargaining for the police union, is on the May 1 municipal ballot for San Antonions. Fix SAPD, a San Antonio grassroots organization that started in the Summer of 2020, collected 20,000 signatures over several months to put Prop B on the ballot. In tandem with several Texas grassroots coalitions, Fix SAPD began with the notion that how officers are disciplined and fired should be in the hands of the voter.
Collective bargaining is disseminated across Texas through state law Chapter 174. Since San Antonio voters awarded the police union collective bargaining rights in 1974, the two entities have lost impotence as both have been required to negotiate over officer salaries, raises, healthcare and officer discipline.
Sophomore Darius Lemelle brought to light the importance of local elections and the relationship between voting in local elections and the potential for Prop B to usher in large-scale change. “Voting is crucial to our society and people often feel their vote doesn’t matter,” Lemelle noted. “That’s because we don’t see change at the federal government impacting our communities. Voting in local elections is how we can create change in our community. Prop B is one step in creating change in the aspect of police brutality. Removing police officer’s ability of collective bargaining can lead to more accountability and less rehires of officers who have incidents of police brutality.”
Fix SAPD notes the collective bargaining process results in contract provisions that allow officers fired for misconduct to still work for the police department. In fact, between 2010-2019, 70% of police officers who were terminated were then rehired. The City of San Antonio also has a 180-day statute of limitation for police misconduct, meaning reports of police malfeasance after 180 days are not regarded legally. Opponents of Prop B worry that the loss of collective bargaining would lead to few job protections and make recruitment more difficult. In the past the City and the police force have used collective bargaining to improve testing processes and recruitment while also incorporating provisions for clothing allowance and drug testing into negotiations.
Local activist and former UTSA student Kimiya Factory throws her support behind Prop B despite the opposition from officers and, similar to Lemelle, earnestly reverberated the importance of voting, especially among young people. “Students should vote for Prop B because local elections are just as important as national elections and Prop B puts accountability on the ballot for the community of San Antonio,” Factory said. “Contract negotiations leave the community out of the conversation, but more importantly, misconduct is not negotiable, murdering people is not negotiable, lives being lost is not negotiable. UTSA needs to use its voice as the youth to get there and empower more youth to get that vote out.”