City of Houston files motion to invalidate Proposition B

HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The City of Houston is turning up the heat in its fight against the firefighters' union.

On Friday, the city filed a motion arguing Proposition B violates state law and should be voided.

Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association president Marty Lancton is calling this an attack on firefighters, their families, and voters.

"That should cause a big alarm in everybody that believes their vote matters," Lancton tells FOX 26 News.

Voters approved Prop B in November 2018. The measure requires pay parity between police and firefighters of equal rank.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued the following statement:

The City of Houston has filed a motion for a summary judgment in response to the Firefighters Union’s lawsuit so that the remaining legal questions regarding Proposition B can be resolved expeditiously. 

Simultaneously, the City is moving forward with implementing Prop B while it attempts to negotiate with the union to phase in pay raises at an annual cost of more than $100 million.

Until the judge issues a decision and  while discussions continue, Mayor Turner has asked all departments to prepare for Prop. B implementation which would require employee layoffs and cuts in services to citizens.

Both courses of action are consistent with the mayor’s stated position to implement Prop. B without creating further financial instability for the city.

Lancton says he's confused because, besides the public forum organized by the mayor in January, the city has been unresponsive to the union’s multiple requests to sit down with them.

"We’ve sent him, I think, seven letters," says Lancton.

In December 2018, a judge ruled against a previous attempt from the city and the police union to invalidate Prop B. The judge found voters overwhelming approved the measure knowing what it would cost. 

"What the firefighters have been met with again is nothing but legal litigation tactics instead of having someone who is willing to lead," adds Lancton. "And they continue to play politics with public safety." 

The union filed a court order in January to activate the pay raises for firefighters. Firefighters are racking up an estimated $2 million in back pay a week.