HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It was a party all right when the firefighters won, but now it's the morning after. Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton was back in the office at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"We're here. I'm here. We are willing to meet with anybody anywhere any time. So let’s move forward in the best way possible," he said.
That may be easier said than done. At City Council, the topic was just that -- how to move ahead.
"We are trying to figure out a path forward," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
They're weighing options including suing the firefighters union, a move the mayor calls necessary. Under questioning from council members,Turner claimed a legal challenge to the newly passed proposition would allow the city and the firefighters to engage in collective bargaining about how to implement pay parity.
"Right now it looks like we're basically giving the middle finger to the voters, and I don’t want it to be seen as that. But at the same time, if this will get us back to collective bargaining, I'm going to be OK with that," said District G council member Greg Travis.
Turner says they are already preparing for what he says will be a $100 million hit to the budget starting January 1. He says the fire department is already restructuring. They are going to move from four shifts to three. They are making no new hires and preparing a list of personnel for layoffs. All of this will begin around the time Pay Parity will take effect. Turner says make no mistake, this will lead to layoffs and the firefighters will be called to pay for their own pay raises.
"We will look to the fire department first before look to other departments in terms of how this cost will be absorbed." He said.
He says layoffs will begin at the beginning of the year, the same time the pay raises go into effect.
Meanwhile, prominent Houston Attorney Tony Buzbee has offered to represent the firefighters pro bono. He has also expressed interest in running for mayor.