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Mayor Turner Announces First Paychecks With Raises For Houston Firefighters

The union responds that not all the firefighters have received a raise and says thousands of members could file grievances against the City.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner holds a media availability on April 17, 2019, after the weekly Council meeting.
Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced in a statement sent out on Friday that the city has issued the first paychecks to firefighters that reflect the implementation of Proposition B, the voter-approved measure that establishes pay parity between the police and fire departments.

“Today, a total of $27,434,140 was issued to 3,905 firefighters in a lump sum amount that includes payments retroactive to January 2019,” Turner said.

The mayor added the fire department’s biweekly payroll has increased from $10.2 million to $12.2 million, that’s a $31 million increase with respect to the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2019.

Turner presented the budget for FY 2020 on Tuesday and said that implementing the firefighter raises increased the city's existing deficit to $179 million.

In his statement, the mayor noted the city is implementing the police-fire pay parity without phasing in the raises, which was his “preferred option.”

HPFFA president Patrick 'Marty' Lancton at the podium at Houston Fire Department press conference Monday morning, July 17, 2017.
Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz / Houston Public Media
HPFFA president Patrick ‘Marty’ Lancton.

Patrick ‘Marty’ Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, responded to Turner on Friday with his own statement. He said that hundreds or even thousands of firefighters “got paychecks today that were wrong.” The union contends that not all the firefighters have received a raise and that it’s not clear what the mayor’s reference to retroactive payments means.

Lancton added that approximately 4,000 firefighters –the union’s current membership– will have to “file grievances against the city to force a clarification of today's payroll.”

In April, District Judge Tanya Garrison had ordered mediation between the City of Houston and the HPFAA regarding the pay parity measure, but those talks failed.