The Houston Professional Firefighters Association turned in a petition with more than 32,000 validated signatures to ask the City of Houston to put the equal pay ballot initiative on the November 2017 ballot.
"If approved by the Houston voters in the fall, the city charter would be amended to ensure that firefighters and police officers equal pay on a rank by rank basis," HPFFA president Patrick Lancton said.
The group collected more than 52,000 signatures in support of the initiative in just over a week.
"Houston firefighters are at a breaking point. Our fleet and facilities are declining. Our wages, benefits and working conditions are no longer competitive. We are losing firefighters to other departments. We now are asking the voters help Houston firefighters because the city refuses to do so," Lancton said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner provided a statement in response to the initiative:
"Firefighters deserve a pay raise. They initially demanded 21 percent, then 17 percent. The city, hoping to end the impasse with the FFs, offered 9.5 percent, which will stretch the city's financial capability. The association turned down that offer and continues to demand what the city cannot pay. Now the association is asking voters to sign a petition calling for parity between police and fire, but their structures and benefits are very different. The number of days they work per month, command staff, overtime pay and benefits are not the same and have differed over the last 15 years. What they are asking voters to sign is ill-defined and making the most simplistic assumptions could cost the city more than $40 million. That would force the city to schedule layoffs in all department areas or further delay maintenance on buildings and purchase schedules for much needed equipment. The city appreciates and respects every fire fighter, but the demands of their union leadership will financially cripple the city, absent removing the revenue cap and a further tax increase."
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