HOUSTON – A date and a mediator has been set for the additional court-ordered mediation over Proposition B.
The city of Houston and the Houston Professional Firefighters Association is scheduled to begin mediation Aug. 1, according to the union.
The mediator will be Daryl Bristow.
The voter-approved ordinance, which requires the city’s firefighters to be paid the same as their police department counterparts, was ruled unconstitutional in May.
This will be the second time the two groups have gone to mediation.
Marty Lancton, president of the HPFFA, said in a statement, "Houston firefighters remain open to working with city, but so far, the mayor has rejected every sensible offer — in court, in several rounds of mediation, and in previous contract negotiations. We hope this latest mediation with Mr. Bristow changes the situation, but it’s clear the mayor remains focused on punishing Houston firefighter families in defiance of the will of Houston voters."
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in June that the money that was paid to firefighters on May 7 in order comply with Proposition B will eventually need to be repaid because the city cannot make gifts of money.
That announcement came after a unanimous vote by the Houston City Council to restore the 220 firefighters and 66 cadets that were cut as the city was implementing the measure. The vote also voided more than 450 planned demotions.
Turner said that while the city has the right to take the money back immediately, he’s hoping the money will act as a credit on future negotiations with the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
“The way we are looking at it now is that $17 million that’s out there is a credit, and to the extent (that) an agreement is reached, then it would be applied to those negotiations,” Turner said.
However, Turner said that the city’s patience with recovering the money will not extend to firefighters who leave the city’s employment.
“If they terminate their employment, the money is clawed back,” Turner said.
Lancton said in a tweet from the union's account in June that the mayor is overreaching.
"The Mayor is once again blurring the lines between what is required by the law under collective bargaining and his political campaign, where anything goes,” Lancton said. “If any of this was legitimate, he would put it in writing and follow the law."