City to sue over mandatory arbitration law

Add it to what is likely to be a substantive list.

Houston city attorneys said Monday they plan to challenge the constitutionality of a new Texas law that gives Houston firefighters mandatory arbitration in their long-running contract stalemate.

Lowell Denton, an attorney for the city, told District Judge Lauren Reeder in a preliminary hearing that the city plans to mount the challenge, a prospect that could delay a result to the years-long court battle between the Turner administration and the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.

The two sides have been mired in political and court battles since 2017, when the union’s most recent contract expired. They were unable to agree on a new one, and the union sued the city alleging it was breaking the state law that governs how cities pay police officers and firefighters.

The city challenged a key tenet of that law as well, contributing to years of lengthy appeals. The Supreme Court of Texas rejected the city’s argument in March, while at the same time striking down Prop B, a charter amendment that Houston voters passed in 2018 to give firefighters pay parity with police of equal rank and seniority.

See here for some background. I didn’t follow the bill in question, which was authored by one John Whitmire – you can guess what might happen to this litigation if the Mayoral race goes a particular way – nor do I have any thoughts about its likelihood of surviving in court. I just thought this would be an opportune moment to list the now-signed bills that will surely be challenged in a couple of months.

1. The two laws targeting Harris County elections.
2. The law banning gender-affirming care; similar laws in other states have been blocked or struck down.
3. The law that will require rating library books for content; there’s already litigation over library book bans, which is a separate thing.
4. The anti-drag show law; a similar law in Tennessee was ruled unconstitutional.
5. The Death Star anti-local control law, which is already generating great headlines. I hadn’t seen any news stories about litigation against this one before this week and then Houston Landing wrote about it on Monday and included a bit about the potential for litigation. The San Antonio Report had an article on the same topic the next day.
6. The school chaplain law, which on Monday drew a litigation threat from the ACLU of Texas.

There’s probably more but those are my top six. Note that actual litigation won’t be filed until at least September, which is when these new laws kick in. Lots of lawyers are going to be very busy very soon.

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18 Responses to City to sue over mandatory arbitration law

  1. Manny says:

    Maybe it is time to go to private ambulances. I am sure that would reduce the number of firefighters.

  2. C.L. says:

    There are already at least 122 private ambulance services operating in Houston… Some may be run by fascists, tho.

  3. mollusk says:

    I haven’t fully researched this, but offhand I don’t see how this statute doesn’t crash against the rocks of the open courts provision of the Texas Constitution… which of course will be a slow motion wreck.

  4. At the Harris County Jail, we used a private ambulance service (K&K Best Care) for most of the unscheduled, non-life-threatening inmate transports to local hospitals. When an inmate was in crisis, however (e.g. heart stopped/CPR in progress), we always called HFD. The HFD EMS crews were faster, better equipped, better trained, better organized, more experienced, and extremely professional. In an emergency, the HFD crews are second to none.

  5. Manny says:

    Non-police to guard the prisoners would also save money in the county. The state seems to do well with private prisons, and the same for the federal government.

    Yes, C.L., some of those private entities may be owned or managed by fascists.

  6. David Fagan says:

    What is your definition of ‘facism’?

  7. Manny says:

    I guess the question is directed at me, so David. A Republican until proven otherwise. Not all Republicans are fascists.

  8. David Fagan says:

    Would this be considered a prejudice toward Republicans?

  9. Manny says:

    About the same as the Facists calling Democrats, Socialists, or Communists.

  10. David fagan says:

    You are absolutely right, Manny.

  11. Ouch. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but definitely not in this case. In contrast, I’m reminded of Michelle Obama’s DNC speech six years ago – when they go low, we go high. That was a very powerful speech that, in my opinion, showed the difference between the nutcase MAGA Republicans and mainstream Democrats. In mud wrestling, both parties get really dirty and eventually casual spectators can’t tell the difference.

  12. Manny says:

    Those who cheat win, ASTROS.

    Greg as soon as the fascists play by those rules, we can go high.

  13. C.L. says:

    Don’t matter if you’re continuing to call folks you disagree with fascists, communists, or socialists – at some point your name calling becomes meaningless.

    Not all Republicans are fascists, and not all Democrats are communists or socialists. Name calling is what you resort to when you can’t persuade your audience to conform to your beliefs or when you’re runing for office and need to gin up your base.

  14. Manny says:

    Yes, C.L., from the guy that votes according to the hairstyle. I don’t recall you ever getting on Bill about his name-calling.

    Who was it you referred to as Doc?

    Besides, you are wrong in your conclusion.

    As I stated before, you must be a very happy person, C.L.

  15. C.L. says:


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