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City of Houston

Firefighters’ Union Accuses Houston Of Docking Quarantined Firefighters’ Pay

Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña says only one firefighter was affected, but the union claims several are awaiting thousands of dollars in back pay.

Firefighters
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media

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The Houston firefighters' union is accusing the city of docking the pay of some firefighters quarantined for suspected COVID-19 exposure. Houston's fire chief disputes the allegations.

The union said at least six Houston firefighters have seen their pay reduced while in quarantine, with conflicting explanations being offered by the city. Union president Marty Lancton said the problem has been building since June, with some seeing their pay cut by as much as 75%.

"If the mayor's or the fire chief's paycheck was cut by 75%, I think it would be resolved by now. And as we speak today, the members’ paychecks have still not been corrected, and they have still not gotten their money," Lancton said.

In a statement to News 88.7, Fire Chief Sam Peña said the department was aware of only one instance of a firefighter having pay docked, due to failure to properly document and report exposure, and that has been addressed.

"In recognition of the essential frontline services provided by our employees, HFD implemented a policy at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to code any time off due to COVID-19 exposures in a manner that would NOT reduce a firefighter's benefit time or pay," Peña said. "To be clear, no firefighter has lost pay due to a COVID exposure, illness or quarantine."

The union said some firefighters are still waiting for thousands of dollars in back pay.