HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Big developments happened Monday in the fight over how to implement Proposition B for firefight pay.
Court ordered mediation began this afternoon between the city and the police and firefighters unions with a private meeting, and there’s no telling how many days it may take for the opposing sides to nail down an agreement.
Mayor Sylvester Turner declined to comment as he walked into the city’s first mediation meeting with the unions.
It’s the latest attempt to come to an agreement on a timeline for phasing in voter-mandated firefighter pay raises, which were supposed to have gone into effect last November.
City council members started the day with a press conference highlighting the municipal workers they say will be laid off in June if the firefighters union does not agree to a slower five-year phase-in of firefighter pay raises.
“We are hoping that Proposition B can be implemented as we go to mediation this afternoon over a five-year period to avoid layoffs of some people that had no decision in this process," Council Member Dave Martin, District E.
City health and human services employees were speaking out at the press conference.
“Fourteen of my staff have been served the notice that they will be laid off," said Ladrillo Teresita, Sr. Public Health Dentist.
Firefighters union president Patrick Lancton insisted today that the layoff notices are the city’s manufactured crisis.
“I absolutely believe they’re using these people as political pawns," he said.
Earlier this month, Mayor Turner proposed a plan to implement the firefighter pay raises over a 3.5 year period with some layoffs.
Letters show the firefighters union agreed to the timeline, on a condition that no layoffs occur and that the city show financial transparency. Lancton says the mayor is withholding key financial and legal information that is preventing Proposition B from being implemented on any timeline.
“If the mayor truly wanted to get this resolved, he would have filled out this information six months ago, but you’ll have to ask the mayor why he didn’t do it," Lancton said.
Meanwhile, the city is threatening more layoff notices this week if the firefighters union does not agree to a 5-year phase-in plan for Prop B.