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Firefighters get Prop B back pay

Good for them.

The city of Houston on Friday issued lump-sum paychecks to more than 3,900 firefighters, a move Mayor Sylvester Turner said reflects the implementation, retroactive to Jan. 1, of Proposition B, the measure granting firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and experience.

Marty Lancton, president of the Houston fire union, said that contrary to the mayor’s “Orwellian claims,” the paychecks did not fully equalize base and incentive pay between fire and police, as laid out in Proposition B. Lancton said the city “badly botched” implementation of the measure.

The back pay, worth $27.4 million, comes a week after Turner and the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association ended court-ordered mediation without an agreement to phase in the raises over several years.

[…]

For now, the fire department’s biweekly payroll will increase from about $10.2 million to $12.3 million, Turner said. The city has dipped into its reserves to fund raises from Jan. 1 through June 30, which Turner said will cost $31 million. Lancton also has questioned the accuracy of that figure.

Both sides, meanwhile, are awaiting a state district judge’s ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Houston Police Officers’ Union, in which the police union and city have alleged Prop B violates the Texas constitution.

I don’t have anything to add to this, I’m just noting it for the record. I look forward to the day when I will be able to get all of this out of my brain, as I hope to do with Game 6 of Rockets-Warriors.

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8 Comments

  1. David Fagan says:

    When there are no financial numbers for the comptroller, city council, or the FF Union, and when employees do not have access to their pay stubs:

    $31 million budgeted – $27.4 million used= $3.6 million went to……?

    $27.4 million/3900= $7025/employee (didn’t expect that to happen)

    A report of many getting nothing and the rest getting an incorrect figure, but no one has any financial records what so ever, what are the true numbers? I don’t think there are any numbers to produce from the mayor’s side. But, wouldn’t finance like to know where the dollars went? Now that money is actually involved, will this change the whole story? Like Oberg said “stay tuned”.

  2. Steve Houston says:

    David, so you are saying that employees can no longer look up their checks online or simply go over to the Finance department to inquire as to specifics? That seems odd. But if the city programmed the computers to deposit the money in your bank accounts, which it clearly did or none of you would’ve been paid at all, there has to be a rhyme and reason to it all. The mayor’s final statement on how it would be implemented came out on Friday and said, in part, “the City has imposed the same or similar requirements for firefighters as those requirements established for police of the same or similar rank and pay”.

    The way I interpret that is the city decided to go the extra step and hold firemen accountable for having the same years, the same or equivalent certifications, and same college requirements, further using whatever rank employees will be when the demotions take place. This is a change from the mayor’s offer to provide all incentive pays regardless of employee qualifications, likely because the union refused to compromise on either the five year implementation or the admission of unconstitutionality. So if you’re an E/O without a master certificate and 12 years as a firemen, you don’t get the police corporal pay until both conditions are satisfied. If you’re in a rank that requires a college degree, you won’t get paid the extra amount unless you have such a degree and prove it to the appropriate city department.

    As a guess, I’d suggest the $3.6 million was a separated amount for the medical trust portion of Prop B or an amount held for specific purposes, additional money coming in July when the police raise starts up as they had deferred it over a few years. If the courts haven’t specified exactly how or when the city had to implement Prop B, the mere fact that tens of millions of dollars were given to employees shows a good faith effort despite the ongoing bitterness by the fire union guy. If the union decides to compromise now, I wonder how this initial payment will be factored in, or things might have just been cemented in. Even if the mayor loses in November, a new mayor won’t have much discretionary money to change things until the following year’s budget.

  3. David Fagan says:

    Hold that thought, but don’t worry, your organization will still come out on top.

  4. David Fagan says:

    Well, Houston chronicle finally reported on the issue, I guess that makes it news now. How long will it be before it’s at the top off the ‘ol blogging feed here? People ought to be rattling the walls at city hall over money that has no accounting attached to it by now…..yawn, missing money, who cares, at least it didn’t go to the FF’s.

  5. C.L. says:

    David, you lost me at ‘Hello’. HFD employees don’t have access to their pay stubs ? Soon as you made that assertion, everything after that was ‘whomp whomp’.

  6. Bill_Daniels says:

    Turner should lay off the firefighters anyway. Pena said he could do the layoff with a minimal effect on response time. Rent seeking time is over. The city isn’t a jobs program. If the job can be done with fewer people, then it should be done with fewer people. If you want to increase response times, fix the streets, or at least rip out the speed bumps in neighborhoods. If a few seconds are so important, then get rid of the speed bumps.

    They’re all complaining they are underpaid, so it really will be a blessing for those laid off, so they can go get jobs that pay more somewhere else.