Temporary restraining order issued after HPOU files lawsuit to halt Prop B


HOUSTON – The Houston Police Officers' Union has filed a lawsuit against the city of Houston and the Houston Professional Firefighters Association, claiming that Proposition B, or the pay parity amendment between the Houston Police Department and the Houston Fire Department, is unconstitutional.

HPOU filed for a judgment and a temporary restraining order on the proposition.

A temporary restraining order was issued late Friday afternoon and a court date was set for Dec. 14.

The restraining order says the city is restrained from spending any taxpayer funds to implement the pay parity amendment until the court date.

According to court documents, HPOU says it filed the lawsuit in an attempt to "prevent the unlawful expenditure of taxpayer dollars in connection with an unconstitutional amendment to the Houston City Charter mandating pay parity between firefighters and police."

Proposition B was put in the hands of the voters in the Nov. 6 election and passed by a vote of 59 percent to 41 percent.

The city of Houston estimates that the pay parity amendment will cost between $85 million and $98 million per year. The city said the expense will force drastic cuts to city services, including first responders.

HPOU said Proposition B violates a provision of state law that was adopted by the city of Houston in 2003 at the urging of firefighters. The union said that by tying firefighter pay to police pay, "Proposition B is an unlawful attempt to change the standard by which firefighter pay is to be determined, which is supposed to be through comparison to private sector compensation, not other public employees who have completely different job requirements."

Read the lawsuit below:



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HPOU Files Lawsuit in Attempt to Stop Prop B (PDF)
HPOU Files Lawsuit in Attempt to Stop Prop B (Text)


Here is a statement from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner:

"Let me remind everyone there is at least a $100 million cost every year to the passage of Prop B, which the city cannot afford. It would lead to significant layoffs and a reduction of services. Some of those layoffs could involve police officers and firefighters.

“The City cannot afford to lose one first responder for public safety purposes. I believe people understand that.

“Placing the matter in court will clear up the issue of whether state law makes the proposition invalid."

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 341 released the following statement from HPFFA President Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton:

“This throw-down lawsuit by the Houston Police Officers Union proves again that it is a willing political pawn of a vindictive mayor. Sylvester Turner simply refuses to respect the will of the voters and now the HPOU is forcing its members into costly litigation that follows their expensive, failed anti-Prop B campaign.

“Just a few days ago, the city claimed its legal department did not have the resources for Prop B litigation. Eight City Council members then gave the mayor a half-million dollars to hire outside counsel ahead of this predictable litigation. In court today, the city had at least six staff attorneys on hand, along with outside counsel, to ‘defend’ the HPOU litigation.

“This cynical, Sylvester Turner-orchestrated legal play proves that the mayor, the eight city council members that voted to spend taxpayer funds on this wasteful litigation, and HPOU President Joe Gamaldi apparently will do almost anything to defy the will of the voters.

“Houston firefighters are grateful for the support of the 292,000 voters who passed Prop B and we’re confident we will ultimately prevail in court. When that happens, Sylvester Turner will be forced to equally value the city’s first responders as the voters demanded.”