AUSTIN (KXAN) — At the start of the week, the City of Austin was working on contracts with all three of its first responder unions. Here’s where they’re at as of Friday.

Austin Fire Department

An arbitrator ruled on a labor contract between the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) Friday night. The contract is effective as of Friday and does not require approval from the AFA or city council.

The contract will be in place until October 2025. Because the fire association’s contract expired roughly a year ago, the contract factors in back pay and is considered a 3-year contract starting in October 2022.

Firefighters will be paid roughly 4% more year-over-year for the duration of the contract starting in October of last year, according to the City of Austin. Because the contract covers the past year, firefighters will see a roughly 8% wage increase starting in October 2023.

“I don’t think it was a deal that makes us whole as promised by the City, to keep us up with the cost of living, but it does stop the bleeding,” AFA President Chief Bob Nicks said.

“Regardless of our belief that the arbitration panel delivered us a fair decision, going forward, our hope and continued goal is that we will be able to mutually achieve the next labor contract with the Firefighters Association through the collective bargaining process,” said Acting Assistant City Manager Bruce Mills.

Previously, the city announced it did not reach an agreement with the AFA, which required the arbitrator to hear evidence from both sides and make a decision.

The fire union president said it would not submit the final city-proposed contract to its members for a vote.

“The fire department has been treated very unfairly and denigrated over the last eight years,” Chief Bob Nicks said. “Our wages have dipped, while the rest of the fire departments have gotten better. We’re not even the highest paid in Travis County.”

Austin EMS

The city announced Aug. 31 that it had reached a tentative contract agreement with the Austin Emergency Medical Services Association (AEMSA).

According to the AEMSA president, union members will have until mid-day on Monday, Sept. 11 to vote on that contract. If the union votes the contract in, it will go to Austin City Council for a final vote Sept. 14.

The contract includes an increase in the entry-level medic salary to $24.24 an hour, which the city said it believes will assist with recruitment. In addition to a bump in base pay, all current employees would get a 4% pay bump.

“To help retain the most experienced employees, additional increases were added at year 23 and year 26, providing the most tenured employees with increases of 9% – 14.5% in year one of the contract,” the city said in a statement.

Austin Police Department

While the fire department and EMS seem to be headed toward resolution, the police department and city officials are at an impasse after a tentative deal was announced in February but voted down by Austin City Council.

“The City has reached out to APA to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a successor to the contract that expired in March of this year. To date, APA has not been willing to do so.  The City believes that the best way to address critical staffing issues is at the negotiating table and remains hopeful that negotiations will resume in the near future,” a city spokesperson wrote to KXAN.

Meanwhile, the Austin Police Association told KXAN it also has a desire to get back to the bargaining table, but that they are “unable to do so as long as the City’s intent is to fully implement all parts of Prop A, including those sections that we have told the City are nonstarters.”

The APA said it would return to the table if the city would agree to negotiate police oversight.

In February, council members voted for a one-year extension of the current contract instead of a four-year deal because of two ballot measures related to police oversight that will go to voters in May. Some council members worried agreeing to a contract would undo the will of the voters.

“I have no intention of circumventing the ballot measure process,” said Council Member Vanessa Fuentes during those discussions in February. “I believe the people of Austin should expect and have safety in their community and their police officers should be held to the highest possible standard. The resolution we have before us honors both.”

“Throwing out the already-agreed upon four-year contract is disingenuous to the nature, intention and completed work of the four-year agreement,” said Council Member Mackenzie Kelly. She and Council Member Alison Alter voted no. “Delaying this already agreed-upon four-year contract will place doubt in our ability to govern with the community.”

Council ultimately voted 9-2, with Kelly and Alter voting no, to extend a one-year deal to APA but the APA said it would not negotiate for such. The police contract expired earlier this year, but council voted to extend police salaries regardless of contract.

“It’s helpful, but it’s not as helpful as a contract,” said Austin Police Association President Thomas Villarreal at the time.