Proposition B ruling invalidates layoffs, Mayor Turner says

A judge has ruled against the validity of Proposition B under state law.

A judge has ruled against the validity of Proposition B under state law.

Update May 15, 11:16 a.m.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the layoffs of 220 firefighters, 67 firefighter cadets and 47 municipal workers that have been issued in the last couple weeks are no longer necessary.

“There will be no need to demotions within the fire department, no layoffs for any of our employees, no demotions and we can bring back the cadets and move the city forward,” Turner said.

He said the city will offer to return to the bargaining table with the Houston Professional Firefighters Association to try to negotiate a raise. He did not confirm that pay raises issued last week will be revoked however he said he does not want to "claw anything back."

The Houston Police Officer Union President Joe Gamaldi said the Police Officers Union is pleased with the outcome and hopes the firefighters union agrees to revoke its appeal and return to negotiations.

City Attorney Ron Lewis told reporters that the judge found that the proposition conflicted with existing government code that specifies that firefighter pay ought to be tied to comparable positions in the private sector. That law, Texas Local Government Code 174, which also regulates police pay, has a provision that pre-empts any other local ordinance.

Original post May 15, 10:31 a.m.

Proposition B has been ruled unconstitutional by District 157 Harris County Judge Tonya Garrison, but the firefighters union is already planning an appeal.

The voter-approved proposition mandated equal pay between firefighters and police officers of commensurate rank.

Houston City Attorney Ron Lewis passed the information to Mayor Sylvester Turner during a City Council Meeting May 15, after which Turner gave a brief update to council members.

The Houston Police Officers Union filed a lawsuit along with the city of Houston questioning the constitutionality of the proposition and heard oral arguments April 18.

The ruling states that the proposition violates the Texas Constitution's rules surrounding city ordinances and is pre-empted by the Texas Local Government Code's meet-and-confer rules for police and fire departments.

The ruling comes after court-ordered mediation between the two parties failed. As a result of the cost of implementing pay raises for Houston Firefighters, the city has endured several rounds of layoffs of municipal workers and 220 firefighters. The layoff notices are 60 day notices and can technically be reversed before they end of the 60-day period in June.

“The court’s Prop B ruling is a disappointment, but our fight for what’s right is far from over. Two courts have ruled on the constitutionality of Prop B – one for, one against," the statement from the The Houston Professional Firefighters Association reads. "We will continue to strive to force Sylvester Turner to respect the will of 298,000 Prop B voters who sent a strong message that Houston should equally value its police and fire personnel. The mayor’s vindictive, taxpayer-funded campaign against Houston firefighter families continues. While this fight goes on, we will continue to deliver excellent service, be good stewards of city resources, and give back to the communities we serve.”

View the full ruling here:





 

 

 

 
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


MOST RECENT

The estimated number of active COVID-19 cases in Harris County has surpassed 50,000, reaching 51,362 as of the most recent data Jan. 20, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Active cases top 50,000

See the latest trends on COVID-19 in Harris County.

A winning bidder has been selected to buy out francesca’s clothing boutique store. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Winning bidder selected for francesca’s sale

Francesca’s was purchased for $18 million by TerraMar.

The barbecue eatery is the second Killen's Restaurant Group venture to launch in The Woodlands area. (Courtesy Killen's Barbecue)
Killen's Barbecue opens in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Mayor Turner and the honor guard.
Houston joins nationwide coronavirus memorial, lights landmarks

The memorial was planned as a component of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' inauguration.

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas hosted a webinar Jan. 19 to discuss increasing funding and accessibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 87th legislative session.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Houston City Hall aerial view
Houston City Council ethics committee to review speech policies

The discussion comes after Facebook posts by Council Member Greg Travis led to calls for his resignation or censure.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled to return in person in October. (Courtesy Katya Horner/Bayou City Art Festival)
Bayou City Art Festival scheduled for in-person return in October

The Memorial Park version of the festival will be celebrated through alternative virtual and smaller in-person events.

Condit Elementary School
Houston ISD closes Condit Elementary in Bellaire over COVID-19 concerns

According to the HISD COVID-19 dashboard, there are nine active cases at Condit Elementary, including six student cases.

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a warning to bars and nightclubs across Houston and said he plans to go after any establishment seen disregarding capacity guidelines. (Screenshot via Twitter)
Mayor Sylvester Turner calls out concerts, clubs operating over capacity

Turner also reported 1,964 new cases of COVID-19 along with 17 virus-related deaths.