HOUSTON (FOX 26) - This week’s panel: Ben Streusand, conservative commentator, “Three Amigos”, KSEV Radio; Mary Moreno, Communication Chief for The Texas Organizing Project; Bob Price, Associate Editor for Breitbart Texas; Mustafa Tameez, democratic consultant, FOX 26 political contributor; Charles Blain, Urban Reform; Antonio Diaz, writer, educator and radio host, discuss the on-going attempts at mediation over firefighter pay parity between the firefighters and the city.
For the third time in a matter of months, mediation between the City of Houston and the Firefighters Union collapsed. After meeting for just a few hours, mediator Daryl Bristow, declared there was no chance of agreement. THe firefighters made their offer public, phase in voter approved pay parity with police over 5 years, with all future wage disputes settled by an independent arbiter.
The mayor, apparently, rejected that deal. Multiple sources, including mayoral challenger Dwight Boykins, tell FOX 26, Turner and the city are seeking an agreement which would include privatizing EMS service, a move which would strip more than a thousand firefighters off the city payroll.
Mayoral spokesperson Mary Benton says she is unaware of any new discussion privatization, adding the option has been studied and considered by both the current and past administrations. Fire Chief Sam Pena tells FOX 26 flatly, "There is no plan or recommendation to privatize EMS."
FOX 26 News - July 31, 2019 After months of bitter public battle, the City of Houston and its firefighter's union are again heading back to the bargaining table.
For the second time this year, a court has ordered the warring parties into mediation - an effort to find an elusive compromise over the controversial issue of pay parity with Houston Police.
"This is a new day. Anything that was yesterday is gone. We are looking forward," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Turner says he's willing to deal, but insists any offer will not exceed what he believes the City can afford.
"I am going to be positive and optimistic, and I am going to walk in with the intent of resolving it and hopefully we will," said Turner.
On the other side of the table, the Mayor will likely meet an equal measure of resolve.
"It's very easy, respect democracy. Respect the will of the 300,000 voters," said Marty Lancton, President of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association.
Lancton says voters approved pay parity for his members and the Mayor should honor that demand, regardless of whether Proposition B survives the ongoing court challenge.
Lancton predicts this round of talks will crumble like those before it if the Mayor fails to adequately reveal the City's finances.
"We cannot bring a contract to our firefighters if we cannot verify the numbers, it's that simple. I am prohibited by law from doing so," said Lancton.