Rare, special meeting called for Houston firefighters’ pay parity with police

35
Houston Fire Department

In a challenge to Mayor Sylvester Turner, five Houston City Council members have called a special meeting for Friday, seeking to force a resolution to the issue of a referendum on firefighters’ pay parity with police.

Firefighters have been trying for many months to get the issue on the ballot.

One year ago, the Houston Professional Firefighters Association turned in more than 32,000 signatures on petitions asking the city to put the issue on the November 2017 ballot. To secure a spot on the ballot, 20,000 signatures are needed.

The issue didn’t make it onto that ballot, and it’s still not scheduled to go to the voters.

The Houston Fire Department union sued the city in December when the city secretary hadn’t begun to count the signatures. A state district court in March ruled against the city, calling the delay in counting the signatures “unreasonable.”

“Considering the importance of Petitioners’ interests in having their proposed charter amendment submitted for voter approval promptly … it was unreasonable for the City Secretary to fail to review the Pay-Parity petition, count the number of valid signatures on the petition, and report her findings to City Council before the August 21, 2017 deadline for City Council to order an election on November 7, 2017,” 269th Judicial Court Judge Dan Hinde wrote in his findings.

HFD union chief Patrick Marty Lancton said he was pleased that council members were taking action.

“The burning question now is: Will the City of Houston finally respect the will of tens of thousands of Houston voters and finally put this issue on the ballot?” Lancton told The Texas Monitor. “We were forced to go to court and we won there. Yet the mayor has refused for more than a year — and two election cycles — to put this before Houston voters. We are gratified that there now are Houston City Council members who take this issue seriously and are willing to try to get this issue before voters.”

From the Houston Chronicle:

The council members aim on Friday to secure their colleagues’ support for a resolution calling on Turner to place an item on the council’s July 24 agenda to schedule a November election on the petition, which seeks to grant firefighters the same pay as police officers of corresponding rank.

In Houston’s strong-mayor form of government, the mayor generally has sole authority to decide what appears on the agenda for the weekly council meetings.

The lone exception allows three council members to set the agenda of a special meeting. Such gatherings — including this one — typically are organized without the mayor’s approval and often struggle to muster a quorum, as many of the 16 council members are loathe to invite the mayor’s wrath.

The council members who called the meeting are Greg Travis, Michael Kubosh, Brenda Stardig, Dwight Boykins and Martha Castex-Tatum. Although that was enough to schedule the meeting, the group will need to convince at least four more members to attend in order for business to be transacted.

From ABC-13:

A spokesperson for the mayor says the meeting is unneeded as the process is already in motion and council members had been notified of the timeline.

Turner is out of the country on a trade mission.

The special meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Give them equal pay but put them on the same shift rotation of working 8 hour days 5 days a week. Most firefighters I know have a second job or run a business because their schedule allows for it and that is a huge benefit to them.

  2. In a challenge to Mayor Sylvester Turner, five Houston City Council members have called a special meeting for Friday, seeking to force a resolution to the issue of a referendum on firefighters’ pay parity with police.
    Firefighters have been trying for many months to get the issue on the ballot.
    One year ago, the Houston Professional Firefighters Association turned in more than 32,000 signatures on petitions asking the city to put the issue on the November 2017 ballot. To secure a spot on the ballot, 20,000 signatures are needed.
    The issue didn’t make it onto that ballot, and it’s still not scheduled to go to the voters.

  3. HFD BENEFITS
    Work 9 days a month (24 hr shifts)
    Job security, Flexible & Rewarding Career
    College Tuition & Educational Incentive Pay
    DROP – Deferred Retirement Option Plan
    Deferred Compensation
    Pension…

    Should HFD get paid better? Most definitely YES! Should they compare themselves to HPD? I can’t remember the las time I worked a 9 days month.

    • Well, let’s see, the last time I worked a fast moving homicide. Hurricane Harvey. Not just 14 hours, but pretty much the entire week and a half. The point is they shouldn’t be comparing themselves to HPD. We do different jobs that require different skill sets. What they SHOULD be doing is comparing themselves to other fire departments…apples and oranges

    • By this logic I should get pay parity with an NFL quarterback or a Psychologist or Marriage Therapist. Police officers (and firefighters) put their bodies on the line everyday they are at work. I council people and couples. But I don’t get paid like an NFL player or a doctor. For that matter, why do we get paid less than the mayor or city council? The answer is because they are ALL different jobs and people are willing to pay differently for them.

    • OK…which part of what I am saying do you not understand? I have already agreed that HFD NEEDS a pay raise. Then I explained that you can not compare the two departments as we do different things. Finally, I told you that HFD needs to compare themselves to other fire departments as HPD did when we felt our pay scale needed to be adjusted. I am not sure which part of that statement you are misunderstanding.

    • I don’t really care how much HFD makes. Why is that even a concern? I told you that HFD deserves a raise. How is my concern whether they make more than HPD even relevant? If you are going to ask a question please make sure it is an intelligent one

    • Well first you obviously do care how much they make because you wouldn’t care if they are paid the same as HPD. Second it’s relevant because if they are paid the same then HPD wouldn’t get the raises they have been getting in the recent years. Third I’m betting if the city were to pay HFD what other cities in this state pay their fire depts it woube more than what pay parity will bring. Thus making it even more challenging for HPD to negotiate wage increases for themselves. I’m going to end the conversation here, but if you need some more help connecting the dots let me know I’ll be glad to help.

  4. Not the same, one is the first line of social safety net humanity trash collector (criminal felons and mentally ill); the other the trained super heroes trained and equipped to save the day. Trash-man deserve better wages than super heroes.

  5. I agree that HFD needs to be paid more, but why are we comparing Apples and Oranges? Why don’t they do what HPD did and look at the other large municipal organizations and push for what is the median across the state.

  6. I don’t mind fire fighters getting equal pay. That said, I don’t want to be billed for ambulance services the fire department provides. Our tax dollars pay for the fire department and I condider it an outrage to be taxed a second time if I need their services.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here