Mediation Ends between Houston and Firefighters over Proposition B
It is now expected that firefighter layoffs will occur after mediation regarding prop B failed to provide a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the city of Houston and its firefighters.
The mediation had been ordered by the court, so it comes as no surprise to anyone that the two sides were unable to reach a resolution. Proposition B was a voter-approved measure that gave Houston’s firefighters equal pay with police officers of similar rank.
According to the attorney who served as mediator during the process, an impasse was officially declared because no progress had been made throughout any of the sessions.
The city proposed implementing pay raises over the course of three and a half years. It also stated no firefighters would be laid off or demoted as a result of the pay raises neither that time, nor there any layoffs of cadets. It would also not require similar education among firefighters eligible for raises based on their positions.
That offer was not satisfactory to the union and as a result, the city was forced to lay off hundreds of firefighters and city workers in an effort to balance the budget. The lawyer for the city called it a “self-inflicted wound” and if the union did not want layoffs it should have been willing to compromise with the city.
Union officials tell a different story and say that an offer was never made by the city. Furthermore, the union stated that one of the city’s requests was unacceptable, stating, “We would have to agree that the Proposition B, the will of 300,000 voters, that we would have to defy democracy and that we would have to agree that Proposition B is unconstitutional and gets overturned. We would absolutely never do that.”