HOUSTON - Mediation between Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the union representing the city's firefighters over the implementation of Proposition B have ended with an impasse after the parties failed to reach a deal Thursday.
Turner called the inability to come to an agreement unfortunate and said the city is working to issue checks to firefighters May 10 for a lump sum of $31 million.
Turner said the city has agreed to a 3.5-year implementation of Proposition B with no layoffs, no demotions and no cadets laid off but the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association keeps coming back and "moving the goalposts" during negotiations.
"If the city were to do what the firefighters are asking us to do with no layoffs and no funding source, this city would be bankrupt," Turner said.
The mediator for the two parties officially declared an impasse for negotiations Friday morning.
HPFFA President Marty Lancton said there is a new stipulation by Turner that makes the deal unworkable.
The stipulation, which Turner did not mention during his news conference on Friday, is that firefighters themselves declare Proposition B unconstitutional.
"Certainly HPOU (Houston Police Officers Union) is making that position very, very clear," Turner said.
Last week, the Houston City Council voted to approve the layoff of 220 firefighters, and Wednesday, hundreds received an email letting them know they’re out of a job effective June 30.
Turner had repeatedly said that the city could not afford the annual $100 million for pay parity with police, which is why the layoffs are happening, Turner said.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said he spent the past few days breaking the news to firefighters in person.
Firefighter union representatives had no comment when leaving Thursday evening's talks.
The mediator in the conversation wrote the following letter:
"Dear Judge Garrison:
"Pursuant to your Order, I mediated the above-referenced matter on the afternoon of last Monday, April 22nd and the afternoon of last Tuesday, April 23rd. Since resolution was not achieved, I brought the parties back for another formal session yesterday afternoon. I also have had several in person and telephone conversations with counsel.
"Unfortunately, the parties have not been able to resolve the matter. I am therefore declaring our negotiations at an impasse.
"Thank you for allowing me to be of service to the Court. Let me know if you would like me to do anything further."
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