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

Zoo Lights is a light show within the Houston Zoo that happens every year. (Courtesy Houston Zoo Lights)
9 holiday light displays to see in the Greater Houston area

Check out these nine free and ticketed displays to see through December and January in the Houston area.

2423 Dryden Road, Houston: Located in the West University Place area, this home features an updated kitchen, bathrooms, fixtures and a roof installed in 2020. The home additionally features a living area, study and a fourth bedroom on the first floor, with an en suite in the primary bedroom. Additional features include hardwood floors, quartz countertops and stainless appliances. 4 bed, 3 full bath/2,720 sq. ft. Sold for $1,082,001-$1,242,000 on Nov. 12. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Bellaire, Meyerland, West University Place real estate: See some of the properties that sold in November 2021

Check out the homes that sold in Bellaire, Meyerland and West University Place in November.

Tomball City Council approved a development agreement with Lovett Industrial for 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road Nov. 29. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Tomball City Council approves development of 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road; JLB Eatery coming soon to Katy and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 1.

HCSO Assistant Chief Mike Lee presents information on the county's new safety policing initiative Nov. 30. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County approves $2.6M program to fight violent crime in unincorporated areas

“We are strategically pinpointing and then attacking crime, and the best part of it is we are doing it hand in hand with the community,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

Crust Pizza Co. is opening soon in Montgomery and Willis. (Courtesy Crust Pizza Co.)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: 5 businesses coming to McKinney; Crust Pizza Co. to open two locations in Montgomery, Willis and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 30.

Houston Methodist will use a philanthropic gift to advance its cancer research and care. (Courtesy Houston Methodist)
With $25M gift, Houston Methodist to expand cancer research, care

Houston Methodist will use a recent philanthropic gift to expand its cancer research and care.

Local nonprofit Second Servings has reached a milestone of 7 million pounds of food delivered to Houston charity partners. (Courtesy Second Servings)
Food rescue nonprofit Second Servings reaches 7 million-pound milestone

Local food rescue nonprofit Second Servings has hit a new milestone.

Oak Street Health, a network of value-based primary care centers for adults on Medicare, opened a new location on Fondren Road on Nov. 22.(Courtesy Oak Street Health)
Oak Street Health opens new Fondren Road location in Houston

Check out Oak Street Health's offerings at its new location on Fondren Road.

The median home price in the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto area has risen considerably since last October. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Home sales, costs in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto remain hotter than Greater Austin; Halal Guys opens in Pearland and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 29.

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

A few new businesses have opened in Rice Village over the last few months. (Courtesy Rice Village)
The Missing Piece, Sneaker Vault, Refresqueria and more now open in Rice Village

Check out some of Rice Village's recent business openings in this late November roundup.