Update on COA Resolution – Binding Arbitration

May 1, 2022 –

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Three Things:

  1. Although nothing is assured until the Council vote on Thursday May 5thThe passage of the Council resolution to direct the City Manager to abide by the City Charter that requires binding arbitration is highly likely to pass. After the agreement and resolution wording was finalized, we had so much support we had to turn down council co-sponsors that wanted to publicly support (any council resolution can only have 5 sponsor and co-sponsors). Once the Council had a chance to see both sides of the issue, they are supporting the firefighters.
  2. We do Not need firefighters to show up en masse at the Tuesday Council Workday or the Thursday. With current Council support being high we should not amplify the issue.

IF you still would like to come by and tell the Councilmembers how much you appreciate their support, please show up at City Hall before 0900 on Tuesday ( May 3rd Council Work session) and/or 1000 on Thursday (May 5th Council Regular Member date).

Attire would be an AFA T-shirt (non-AFD T-shirt). I will be there, early, each day and I will be available at (512) 217-3474 if you have any questions. If you need a T-Shirt, please let me know and I will bring it with me to City Hall.

The two following documents together comprise the deal to direct the manager to comply with the binding arbitration section of the City Charter
Here is the posted Council Resolution
Here is the draft agreement

  1. Here is a link to an excellent article written by Bridget Gurmit of the Statesman from last week. In this article the City finally answers the question, “what is the legal concern?”. COA answer is an utter joke! There is strong case law which rejects their stated concern that has been uniformly upheld in Texas courts. No wonder they refused to articulate their legal concern to us!

Here is an excerpt from the Statesman article:
“The key question is whether city voters can require binding arbitration when state law “does not require compulsory arbitration.” The city’s lawyers don’t think so. They want to see whether the Texas Supreme Court will provide clarity by weighing in on two cases involving other issues with the Houston firefighters’ union.

But the Austin Firefighters Association cites a 1991 appellate court ruling that seems to be on point. That ruling upheld a voter-approved firefighter arbitration mandate in Port Arthur. While nothing in state law requires arbitration, the court said, nothing forbids “mandatory and binding arbitration should the electorate through initiative process and through their reserved power elect to do so.””

That is for now, if you have any questions, please respond to this email or call me.

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association
(512) 217-3474