September 15, 2021 –
During my tenure as President of the Austin Firefighter’s Association, it has been important that the membership directs the Association on how to proceed on all important business whenever possible. Our Association is built on “the will of the membership” premise, and your Association will do what you direct us to do. This is extremely important especially when we are faced with potentially contentious issues that could divide our solidarity. Conducting a deliberate process, followed by an online vote will ensure that everyone can be involved in the discussion and decision. Once the decision is made, we go forward together in unity.
As such, there is an important matter that your AFA feels must be brought to your attention; the likely negative effects that the passing of Proposition A would have on future fire department budgets and on future labor/management negotiations. Once this proposition passes, it will be too late. Only now can we affect the outcome.
The entire AFA Eboard feels an obligation to the membership to educate the membership on Prop A so we are announcing an AFA Special Meeting. The purpose of this meeting will be to start a discussion and process to determine if the firefighters should oppose Proposition A.
It is important to this discussion that both pros and cons voices are heard. If you are willing to be that “con” voice for the discussion board as well as membership email, please let me know and we will set you up for this role.
It is important to note that, to date, zero Austin Council members support Prop A and the far majority are actively opposing it.
Proposition A would exponentially increase APD funding and will be voted on by the Citizens of Austin. Early voting for this election starts on October 17th and Election Day is November 2nd.
Proposition A, if passed, would most likely have a profound negative impact on the building of future fire stations and obtaining additional aerials. More importantly, it will have a negative effect on upcoming negotiations and future budget cycles and could cause firefighter layoffs.
The AFA has never supported “defunding” police, in fact, we unapologetically support fully funded Police, Fire and EMS Departments. However, Prop A is a huge overreach that will negatively affect Austin Firefighters. Although, proponents claim that Prop A will end Police “defunding”, this is false. A law passed at the State Legislature earlier this year that fully restored Police funding, the Police are now funded 10 million more than ever before.
According to the COA budget office, Prop A would obligate the City to spend an additional 54 to 119 million dollars per year. This is in addition to the “refunded” and historically high budget that the Police will operate under in FY22.
What is Prop A?
Below is the approved ballot wording:
Proposition A –
Shall a petitioned ordinance be approved to enhance public safety and police oversight, transparency and accountability by adding new chapter 2-16 to establish minimum standards for the police department to ensure effective public safety and protect residents and visitors to Austin, and prescribing minimal requirements for achieving the same, at an estimated cost of $271.5 million – $598.8 million over five years?
Articles on Prop A
Brother and Sister firefighters, much more info will be presented during the discussion period prior to the online vote, including sample language for a NO on A campaign IF the membership votes to oppose Prop A. Your AFA has been against de-funding the police from the beginning, and we fully support appropriate police staffing, however this ordinance removes needed flexibility to balance ALL budget needs, including those of AFD.
We have dealt with contentious membership issues in the past and, after the vote, my hope is that this process will result in membership solidarity, even if we may differ in our personal opinions. Whether the vote outcome is “yes or “no” the AFA will follow the will of the membership.
Please email or call me with your questions,
President, Austin Firefighters Association
Cell (512) 217-3474