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City swears in 66 Houston fire cadets after Prop B ruled unconstitutional

May 17, 2019

The city of Houston on Thursday swore in 66 fire cadets to the department ranks after Mayor Sylvester Turner rescinded the pink slips they received last month under his plan to implement Proposition B.

A state district judge ruled the pay parity measure unconstitutional and void Wednesday, prompting Turner to announce that no city employees would receive layoffs.

Prop B required the city to grant firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and seniority, and Turner said the layoffs were necessary to offset the $79 million-a-year cost.

As part of his plan to pay for firefighters’ raises, Turner also sent 60-day layoff notices to 47 municipal workers and secured city council approval to lay off 220 firefighters. Those layoffs also will be reversed, Turner said Wednesday.

Many of the new firefighters will begin work at Houston fire stations as early as Saturday, according to a city news release.

Turner previously had refused to promote the cadets, while continuing to swear in police cadets. The fire cadets were the first city employees to receive pink slips.

Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton said union members “heartily welcome (the cadets) to the fire service.”

“It’s great to see them finally recognized for their hard work and commitment to serving Houston, and not simply used as political hostages by the mayor,” Lancton said in a statement.

The fire union has filed notice that it is appealing the judge’s ruling.

jasper.scherer@chron.com

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