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Q&A: Houston firefighters battle for more pay at City Hall

Did something strange happen at City Hall today?

HOUSTON – I would say so. Councilman Dave Martin tried to bet his council seat that the HFD Firefighter pay parity issue would be on the November ballot.

When you bet your City Council seat...

THE BET: Houston City Council Member Dave Martin bets his council seat that Houston Fire Department Firefighter pay parity issue will be on the November ballot. Council Member Michael Kubosh, Houston At-Large Position 3 didn't appear to take the bait. More City Hall antics on TV: KPRC2 / Click2Houston at 5p.

Posted by KPRC2 Joel Eisenbaum on Friday, July 20, 2018

Moments before, a special city council meeting that would have pushed toward that goal, did not happen because not enough council members showed up for the special meeting.

The scheduling of that meeting was also out of the ordinary because it was scheduled on a day, some say purposely, that the mayor is out of town. The mayor is not in favor of pay parity. He says the city cannot afford it.

Great. What is pay parity, again?

In this instance pay parity represents Houston firefighters' attempts to be paid equal to Houston Police Officers. Several other cities, including Dallas, New York and Chicago, use this model.
It aligns certain HFD/HPD ranks as equal and deserving the same pay. 

How much will that cost?

That is up for debate. Mayor Sylvester Turner has said it will cost the city a bundle, an additional $79 million per year.
The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (the union) disputes that figure but has not released an estimate.

OK. So what's next?

Firefighters sued the city secretary to count their petitions. They won. The city counted and certified the petitions.

But before the measure can be put on a ballot, the city council must take action to put in on the ballot. That effort failed today, but the mayor has said he does intend to present the issue to the council for a vote (so the public can vote) Aug. 8.

Read the latest from the mayor's office on pay parity: Click here

Read the latest from the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association on pay parity:
File: HPFFA Statement