Second round of negotiations ends without agreement between mayor and Firefighters Union

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Two recent rounds of negotiations have yielded little progress in preventing layoffs while implementing pay raises for the Houston Fire Department, remarks at a press conference held April 15 revealed.

After re-entering in-person negotiations, a lack of financial information available from the city prevented Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Marty Lancton, Houston Professional Firefighters Union president, from reaching an agreement on how to phase in Proposition B’s voter-approved pay raises for all Houston firefighters, Lancton said.

“The reality is we cannot get to a meaningful resolution until the city provides the very basic information that we can take to our members,” Lancton said at a press conference hosted alongside District D Council Member Dwight Boykins.

Lancton said the union is awaiting detailed financial information from the city about how raises can be phased in while factoring in pay parity with the Houston Police Department, as stipulated in Proposition B’s ballot language.

City Council is slated to vote on 220 firefighter layoffs April 17; however, if the HPFFA did not receive the financial information they are requesting, Boykins said he will “tag” or postpone the vote by one week. Notices have already been sent out to fire cadets and municipal workers.

The union’s attorney, Troy Blakeney, said he was told he would receive the information in the next one to two days.

In response, Turner issued an open letter to the union stating he is willing to work on a collective bargaining agreement. However, layoffs are time-sensitive because the city must balance its budget by the end of June.

Following City Council’s vote April 17, a Harris County district judge will accept written arguments April 18 in a joint lawsuit filed by the Houston Police Department and the city of Houston challenging the constitutionality of Proposition B under state law. If she rules against the legality of the proposition, the raises and the layoffs will be invalidated.

 

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Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered health care and public education in Austin.
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