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Houston Mayor, Firefighters Union Closer To Agreement Over Prop B

Neither side has made any concessions but both agreed to more meetings.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, center, at the far end of the table, along with City Attorney Ron Lewis and Fire Chief Samuel Peña, was facing fire union President Marty Lancton, second from right, and attorney Troy Blakeney at a City Hall office on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.

In the ongoing fight over pay parity with police, Houston’s firefighters union and Mayor Sylvester Turner seem closer to an agreement after a meeting in a public setting at City Hall Wednesday.

The meeting came about after Turner invited firefighters union president Marty Lancton to discuss the implementation of Proposition B. The referendum passed in November and obligates the city to pay firefighters as much as police officers of similar ranks.

But amidst a lawsuit by the Houston Police Officers’ Union, firefighters still haven’t gotten a raise.

In the meeting, Turner offered to spread the raises out over several years to avoid an immediate $100 million shortfall for the city, which he says would lead to layoffs.

“If you all are not willing to work it out, if you’re not willing to spread the cost out of a number of years… yes, I will be obligated to move forward, implement Proposition B,” the mayor said. “And if my costs exceed my revenue, I have to make reductions to balance my books.”

Firefighters union attorney Troy Blakeney said it’s a start but he wouldn’t agree to anything at this point.

“Until they bring specifics, it’s impossible to take information back to 4,000 fighters and have an intelligent discussion about what the options are,” he said.

Both sides agreed to have more meetings to talk about details.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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