Police Labor Contract Expires Soon
by: Laurie Johnson, February 17, 2010 11:02:00 pm
The relationship between the Houston Police Officers' Union and Annise Parker was strained on the campaign trail. The union endorsed Parker's opponent, Gene Locke. Parker herself made campaign promises that she'd draw a hard line on the police budget if elected.
Two months after her election, Union President Gary Blankenship says the relationship is back on good terms.
"We had a long relationship with the mayor — a very positive relationship, prior to her running for mayor. I think we got past the campaign stuff pretty quickly and she's committed to dealing with us fair and we're real optimistic."
The union and the city both have negotiating teams working on terms of a new contract. Mayor Parker says it's premature to publicly discuss her views on the contract — but she says the economy will affect negotiations.
"They can read the headlines just as well as you and I can. There is less money flowing into the city coffers. And I think it would be foolish for either side to expect to go in and see a lot of new money flowing into this contract."
Blankenship says the goal for both parties is to keep the Houston Police Department competitive with other major cities in Texas.
"For us to be competitive in the hiring market, we will have to stay competitive in the wage market. Because of the budget shortfall, certainly we're going to have to work smart. We may have to defer some things. That's what the negotiation process is all about."
The contract is up for renewal in June, although there is an evergreen clause that extends it beyond the deadline
if no agreement has been reached.