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Houston City Council Reverses Firefighter Layoffs, Demotions

The council vote comes after a recent court ruling struck down Proposition B, which would have mandated pay raises for firefighters.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, left, sitting down, says firefighters deserve raises the city can afford.



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The Houston City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to reverse layoffs and demotions of hundreds of firefighters.

In April, 220 firefighters received layoff notices and many more faced demotions as a consequence of Proposition B.

The voter-approved measure would have required the city to pay firefighters the same as police officers of corresponding ranks, but it came without a funding source.

Last month, a judge ruled it unconstitutional, after which Mayor Sylvester Turner declared that no firefighters would be laid off or demoted after all.

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association is appealing the judge's ruling, so could the layoffs be reinstated?

Turner said it's too soon to say.

"You're looking at a minimum of a year, maybe more than that," he said. "So we'll have to deal with that down the road."

The president of the firefighters union, Patrick ‘Marty’ Lancton, welcomed the vote but criticized Turner for the "manufactured crisis."

"In regards to the working conditions, it is status quo of where it was and has been, again, for the past eight, nine years," Lancton told News 88.7.

He also expressed skepticism toward the mayor.

"If the mayor, in any part of what he is now saying today, was legitimate, he would put it in writing and he would also follow the law," Lancton said.

He said firefighters should have received more raises as a result of Proposition B and that Turner previously made clear he would not try to claw back the raises the city already gave them.

Turner on Wednesday said those who already received raises can keep them for now – despite the court ruling striking down the measure. But he said he will use the money as a "credit" in future negotiations over firefighter salaries.

"If, for example, if people were to leave the city, retire from the city, then certainly we would have to deduct that from anything that they would be entitled to as they leave the city," Turner said.

He said firefighters deserve raises the city can afford and that he wants to continue collective bargaining with the union.

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