The Austin Police Association will not go back to the negotiating table for a new contract in 2017.
As of Dec. 29, the police department will operate under Civil Service Law. That is standard for most major metropolitan police departments across the state. However, for Austin officers that means no pay raises, unless council votes to do so, and a loss in credit for unused sick time.
Under the current contract, officers are allowed to bank up to 1,700 sick hours. Now, they can only cash out credit for 900 at retirement. For some, that's a loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
So far 20 officers have decided to retire as the end of the contract draws near.
"The morale in the police department right now is as low as I’ve ever seen it,” Austin Police Association president Ken Casaday said. “It is at a 20 year low. We don't have a permanent police chief. All of our cars are taken off the street because the cars they provided us are poisoning our officers. There are so many things that have lead up to this. The officers are in no mood to negotiate with anybody right now."
Last Thursday, Austin City Council voted to send the police association contract back for more negotiations. The department was already operating under one extension.
Casaday says negotiations for the next contract will pick back up in the spring.