During Thursday's Austin City Council meeting, Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday signed up to speak on an unrelated fiscal item. “I’m sure that the money being spent on this is well worth it. But I want everybody on the council to know that we've been waiting over 290 days to sit back down and work out our labor contract,” Casaday told Council.
Casaday pointed out the Council managed to work out a deal for a Major League Soccer stadium but not the police contract. “It’s unacceptable and I had 300 officers in my hall yesterday pissed off that we have not sat down to go over our contract. We’ve been waiting and there's nothing but foot dragging and a waste of time by this Council, we need to get back and get this contract done immediately."
Council Member Jimmy Flannigan chimed in resulting in Casaday shouting at Flannigan as the Mayor urged him to stop. Thursday, the Austin Police Association sent FOX 7 a statement:
“What we saw today was raw emotion and a sense of urgency from a leader that is losing officers every week to other police departments caused by the manufactured schedule put forth by City of Austin management. The city has publicly communicated on multiple occasions that they are saving money for other programs by not being under contract with the police association. Our officers are frustrated and angry that the City Manager is balancing the city’s budget on the backs of the men and women whose sole job is to protect the citizens of this great community. We have men and women who are losing their homes, taking out loans to pay bills and spending a tremendous amount of time away from their families working overtime because we have been out of contract for over 290 days. Additionally, it has been over two months since the city has met with us. We are calling on the community to direct the city manager and council to return to negotiations. It is time to get back under contract with Austin police officers.” - APA
“We are very soon going to get the recommendations from the manager to the council, the staff and the union negotiators will come back to the table and I think we'll be able to button this thing down in maybe 4 to 6 weeks is my hope,” Flannigan told me Thursday afternoon.
I asked Flannigan why he stepped in after Casaday spoke. “We offered the Police Association in December, we said ‘look this deal doesn't work but let's at least extend the prior deal, the one you've described as the Cadillac plan, let's extend that while we figure out what the future looks like’ and the Union wouldn't even come to the table over it. So the Union doesn't agree that that's what happened but that is what happened,” Flannigan said.
And about that exchange... “It’s unforunate that Mr. Casaday felt that he needed to shout down elected officials in that moment. We’re all trying to get to the same place here and I really hope that the union members take a long hard look at who their leadership is and if that's who they really want representing them to their council members,” Flannigan said.