Fire union asks mayor to work out new contract in arbitration
The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association on Tuesday asked Mayor Sylvester Turner to enter arbitration to settle its ongoing labor dispute with the city to secure pay raises for firefighters.
The request comes less than a week after a state district judge ruled Proposition B unconstitutional and void. The charter amendment approved by voters last November granted firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and seniority.
Turner made clear Tuesday that he does not intend to accept the union’s request.
“The City of Houston is willing to return to the table for collective bargaining which would be the regular course of business,” the mayor said in a written statement.
Immediately after last week’s ruling, Turner said he would like to negotiate a pay raise for firefighters “that the city can afford.”
Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton said the mayor had yet to contact the union about sitting down to negotiate anew.
Turner spokeswoman Mary Benton said the union “knows how to reach the mayor,” and repeated Turner’s statement that his “door is open and he is ready and willing to meet with the fire union.”
Lancton made the formal arbitration request in a letter sent to Turner Tuesday.
“Again, recent developments present you with an opportunity to end your political and legal war on Houston firefighter families — and negotiate a firefighter contract in alignment with the will of the 298,000 Prop B voters,” Lancton said, referring to the number of Houstonians who voted in favor of the referendum.