HOUSTON (FOX 26) — The City of Houston has issued a 60-day notice to lay off 47 municipal employees. The affected employees work in the Parks and Recreation, Library, Administration and Regulatory Affairs and Health departments.
67 Houston Fire Department cadets were given notice on April 4 that they would be laid off in 60 days.
Houston City Council will vote on layoffs of classified HFD personnel on April 17.
The Houston Mayor's Office says the pending firefighter and municipal worker layoffs are directly tied to the City’s implementation of Proposition B and the effort to balance the city budget before July 1 when the next fiscal year begins.
The Mayor of Houston and the leader of the Houston firefighters union finally met on Friday to discuss Proposition B, an issue that seems to keep dragging on. Going into the meeting, there seemed to be real potential, finally, for an agreement, but it didn't take long for those hopes to be dashed.
With only a few points to agree upon, sealing the deal seems like a sure thing but no such luck in this latest meeting.
"Whether it's an inch or it's a mile, firefighters have been committed to resolving this," explains Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Lancton left a letter with the mayor saying that the union will agree for firefighters to receive pay parity raises over the course of three and a half years. The union, also asking the City Of Houston to release full financial and budget information, wants no firefighter layoffs and seeks a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"There's two ways you can amend the current law, respecting the will of 300,000 voters," says Lancton. "Implement it all at once or through a collective bargaining contract. That will supersede the city ordinance charter amendment and state law."
Mayor Turner responded with a letter of his own, accusing Lancton of undermining his effort to find common ground. Turner's response reads in part, "At the end of the meeting you delivered a letter you had prepared and publicized before our meeting, without the benefit of our discussion...such tactics are not helpful."
The two sides are set to meet again next week. The mayor has said the more than 20 percent pay hike will cost the city around $100 million a year, translating into a hiring freeze, although the City of Houston has hired 602 new people since November 2018. The city says many of those positions are paid for with grants and other funding.