HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — The city of Houston and its firefighters are just months away from a final showdown over protracted legal issues surrounding wages and collective bargaining rights.
On Friday morning, the Texas Supreme Court combined two cases in which the city of Houston, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Houston Police Officers’ Union disagreed over how firefighter salaries should be determined.
One case challenges collective bargaining; the other the legality of a 2018 voter-approved wage parity change known as Proposition B. When Prop B was passed, a firefighter’s pay was to be set at the same level as a similarly rated police officer. The union of the police officers sued against it.
Houston police officers, who have higher salaries than Houston firefighters, declined to tie their salaries to those of firefighters who have negotiated their contracts in the past.
After years of court battles, it now appears that this final showdown will decide matters for the city. The oral hearing is scheduled for November 29, 2022. A decision is expected to be made in early 2023.
If judges decide the cases in favor of firefighters, they could be owed millions of dollars in pay increases and back pay. It’s money the city has said in the past it can’t just pay for. It’s likely that current Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will be in his final months as mayor by the time a court decision is issued.
It’s unclear what would happen if the city or the union prevailed. The Houston firefighters have been out of contract since June 2017. The city passed 2021 pay rises without a new contract or collective bargaining.
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https://abc13.com/houston-prop-b-proposition-firefighter-pay-collective-bargaining/12283029/ Firefighter pay fight gets court date for final showdown