This ought to be interesting.
A state district judge on Thursday ordered the city, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Houston Police Officers’ Union to enter into mediation as they seek to resolve lingering differences over the implementation of Proposition B, the measure granting firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and seniority.
Judge Tanya Garrison of the 157th Civil District Court ordered the mediation after hearing arguments in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the pay parity amendment. During the hearing, Garrison said she would not issue a ruling on the case “any time soon,” concluding it would only set back ongoing negotiations to phase in firefighters’ Prop B-mandated raises.
“If I make a decision on this one way or the other … it will be the equivalent of throwing a bomb in the middle of the attempts to negotiate a resolution,” Garrison said.
The judge gave the parties until noon Monday to agree on a mediator. The court would appoint a mediator if they cannot settle on one.
The mediation is mandatory but not binding.
The mediator may suggest ways to resolve the dispute but cannot impose judgment, according to a list of rules attached to Garrison’s court order. If the parties do not voluntarily agree to a settlement, the issue returns to Garrison.
See here, here, and here for the background. As long as the mediator isn’t Tony Buzbee, I’m sure it will be fine. As a reminder, City Council will vote on the layoff plan on Wednesday (the agenda item was tagged last week), so perhaps that will provide some incentive to make things happen. In other news, the city provided financial data that the firefighters’ union had been demanding, though whether that will settle that argument or be the cause of further arguments remains to be seen.