Houston officials have offered to raise firefighters’ base salaries, but not sufficiently to establish pay parity with police officers as approved by voters, city and firefighter union officials said Wednesday.
“In my mind, the proposal makes no effort to implement Prop B,” union attorney Troy Blakeney said, referring to the ballot item reflecting a city charter amendment approved in a Nov. 6 referendum. “It makes an effort to pay firefighters additional salaries that do not include all the components of Prop B.”
The proposal nonetheless marks the first evident progress made since Mayor Sylvester Turner met last month with Blakeney and Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton to discuss Proposition B, which compels the city to pay firefighters the same as police of equal rank and seniority.
City Attorney Ron Lewis confirmed the city had made an offer, but neither he nor Blakeney disclosed the amount.
Still, it was clear Wednesday that Turner and Lancton remain far from an agreement to phase in the raises over time. Both say they support that idea, with Turner arguing the city cannot afford to instantly implement Proposition B.
Lancton told reporters Wednesday that the city’s legal efforts to invalidate the proposition, based on the argument that it is unconstitutional, are hampering negotiations.
“He appears to be a victim of his own ego,” Lancton said of the mayor. “His relentless political and legal war on Houston firefighters and their families must end.”
Turner has said the firefighters’ decision Jan. 15 to seek a court order compelling the city to implement the proposition has similarly soured negotiations. Lancton has said the city should already be paying firefighters because the proposition became law nearly three months ago, which is why the union sought the court order.
See here for some background. At this point, I don’t have anything new to say. I don’t know how this ends and I don’t know how long it will take to get there. If we’re still fighting about this in the next city elections in 2023, I won’t be surprised.