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City Council to vote on police officers' request for bargaining representation

By Brian M. Cuaron - BCUARON@VICAD.COM
Sept. 5, 2011 at 4:05 a.m.

The adoption of next year's tax rate and budget may get overshadowed by another pressing issue - Victoria police officers' desire for bargaining representation.

The Victoria City Council on Tuesday will vote on whether to recognize the Victoria Police Officers Association as the bargaining agent for all the department's officers.

Of the department's 116 officers, 104 signed a petition requesting their association be their bargaining agent. An officer wouldn't be able to opt out of having the association be his representative.

Many of the local association's members are affiliated with the Texas Municipal Police Association. The statewide association counseled the local association's president, officer Jonathan Allen, in crafting the petition.

If the council rejects resolution authorizing the association as the bargaining agent, then the matter will go before voters in May. Four city council members will also be up for re-election that month: David Hagan, Paul Polasek, Gabriel Soliz and Denise Rangel.

Mayor Will Armstrong, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek, and council members Joe Truman and Tom Halepaska have come out against the measure. Rangel and Soliz are undecided, saying they need more information.

Only Hagan has come out in support of the measure.

Polasek said that recognizing a bargaining agent could set up a subversion in the department's chain of command. He also said it would increase administrative costs.

However, Hagan has noted that under the "meet and confer" agreement the officers association is pushing for, the city wouldn't be required to agree to anything. He said the measure would allow the council to get around the filter of city management in hearing the officers' concerns.

"I think it's amazing for people that are worried about taxes going up, are voting for a tax increase," said Hagan, referring to other council members support of a tax rate above the effective rate.

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