'We will move forward': Mayor, firefighters union meet to discuss Prop B

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter, Cathy Hernandez - Reporter, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Professional Firefighters Association met Wednesday afternoon to discuss Proposition B.

Both sides agreed they would meet again.

Turner said the city will implement the new law that requires the city to give firefighters equal pay to that of Houston police officers of the same rank, but it will take time.

However, the HPFFA says firefighters have waited long enough. It has been two months since the city voted in favor of the proposition, and it has still not gone into effect.

"I'm willing to entertain any proposal that would reduce the costs of Prop B, minimize layoffs and minimize the reduction of city services.  And I'm open to any and all proposals that would achieve that," Turner said.

The HPFFA requested a court order Tuesday requiring the city to begin the pay parity immediately, but Turner said the city has to come up with $100 million, which will result in massive layoffs.

"We will move forward with Proposition B,” Turner said. “We will define what parity is, but the city has never had a $100 million on an annualized basis set aside just to pay Proposition B."

Turner says the city will have to figure out how to implement Prop B, which was the purpose for Wednesday’s meeting, but the HPFFA got a judge involved.

"Now, I have set a meeting for Wednesday at 2 to sit down with the firefighters, and what do they do? They go to the courthouse and they say, ‘Tell the mayor to start paying us right now,'" Turner said. "I'm just disappointed that before a meeting, you go to the courthouse demanding payment. You can't demand payment and at the same time say you want to sit down and meet. The two don't go together."

After the meeting Wednesday, Marty Lancton, president of the HPFFA, said, "The reality is you have nearly 300,000 voters that have supported not only proposition B, but the firefighters. And since that time, there has been no substantive dialogue about implementation or any other path."

No formal proposals were presented at the meeting. No schedule for future meetings was outlined.

The HPFFA sent out a statement that said in part, “With the election two months behind us, Prop B is now the law. It’s past time for Mayor Turner to respect the will of the voters. We look forward to a ruling by the court.”

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