Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner pushes back on advancing law forcing city into binding arbitration

Major pushback from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner against a soon-to-be-signed law busting a six-year labor impasse with the City's firefighters.

The measure crafted by State Senator John Whitmire and overwhelmingly passed by the Texas Legislature will force the City of Houston into binding arbitration soon after Governor Greg Abbott signs the bill.

At this week's meeting of City Council, Turner suggested it will be left to the next mayor to deal with the substantial liability looming with arbitration.

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"So they get binding arbitration, they continue with their lawsuits, costs continue to rise and then how much more do you want? What I can say to you is this Mayor will turn over to the next Mayor and City Council a City that is in healthy financial state. It's up to the next Mayor and City Council to maintain it and if you start working against it before you even get here, then that speaks volumes and I'll leave it just like that," said Turner.

Whitmire, who is running to be Turner's successor as the mayor told FOX 26 that failing to deal with firefighters through voter-approved, collective bargaining amounts to negligence.

"We have to have a first-class fire department. We have to have firefighters willing to run into burning buildings on our behalf. The current administration has ignored the firefighters for seven years. It actually fought them in the state supreme court. So it was time to quit kicking the can down the road and work out a reasonable resolution to the firefighters compensation," said Whitmire.


Whitmire's bill had the support of every single Harris County lawmaker in the Texas House and passed the State Senate unanimously.

Legal experts have predicted arbitrators will likely rule that Houston firefighters are owed several hundred million dollars in back pay and benefits.