How the pandemic altered Texas city-police union negotiations

Almost every aspect of life has been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. It would surprise few if the pandemic – coupled with sporadic civil unrest this year – made often-problematic negotiations between Texas municipalities and police unions more difficult.

2020: not a good time

However, both the city of McAllen and the McAllen Professional Law Enforcement Association apparently recognized that 2020 was not a good time to press the other side for concessions or enhancements.

The city and police union recently signed the dotted line on a one-year collective bargaining agreement.

Negotiating in good faith

“The city and ourselves negotiated in good faith,” said Sgt. Rolando Castillo, union president, adding that the pandemic created “a lot of financial issues” that lowered expectations of improved benefits for union members.

McAllen’s city manager said sales tax revenue dropped $7 million for the fiscal year.

A recent news report explained that the drop was due to business closures due to the pandemic, as well as reduced cross-border travel from Mexico in the U.S.

Castillo said the union understands the negative financial implications of the virus, but that it was “able to negotiate some administrative items that were not monetary.”

Looking ahead

He pointed out that because the recently negotiated contract is for only one year, “so next spring we’ll start negotiating another contract and hopefully it will be more beneficial with pay and benefits once the Valley’s in a better place financially. Hopefully, we’re in a better place with this situation.”

He said he hopes the city will soon receive some promised federal funds, and that McAllen businesses will rebound in 2021 – together improving the city’s finances. That will, in turn, improve the union’s ability to negotiate increases in pay and benefits.

Castillo said city officials indicated a willingness to discuss enhancements in future negotiations.