After night of storm work, Houston firefighters dispute first Prop B paychecks

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the rain fell and water rose Thursday night, Houston firefighters were out on city streets, side by side with first responders from across our city.

In photos on the department's Twitter account, some Houston firefighters are seen rescuing a driver from a car overturned in a ditch. Another incredible photograph shows Houston firefighters cutting apart a burning roof under Thursday night's lightning storm. In a third shared with ABC13, firefighters are seen plucking City Councilmember Greg Travis from high water.

That photo, especially ironic, as Travis once said he wanted to be with firefighters May 9 when they got big Prop B paychecks.

RELATED: Houston firefighters set to get big Prop B checks overnight

Travis told ABC13 Friday he mistakenly hit high water heading home from a city event. Good naturedly, Travis said it was good timing and he was just keeping his word to be close to firefighters on May 9 as Prop B was implemented.

Firefighter Union President Marty Lancton told ABC13, "Guess what? He got one part of that. He did get to hang out with firefighters. It was just the fact that the Houston firefighters had to rescue him in the flood water. But those are the same people that got nothing on the voter approved Prop B."

The part firefighters say is missing is those big checks.

At the very same time floodwaters rose Thursday night, the city was direct depositing the first round of Prop B paychecks in firefighters' bank accounts. It was supposed to be a giant check to make up for five months of back pay since Prop B should've gone into effect. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday in a statement, the city distributed a more than $27 million to firefighters overnight. The checks, Turner says, "reflect the implementation of Prop B."

SEE ALSO: Career-ending emails sent to more than 200 firefighters

The union's Lancton shot back, "Yet you have hundreds and hundreds of firefighters that would beg to differ. Some got reduced pay, some got nothing, many of them got absolutely nothing."

There is still no accounting of who got what, who missed out and why. Friday morning, hundreds of firefighters packed a union meeting looking for answers.

One experienced firefighter showed us his paystubs. He has nine years on the job and a college degree. Friday morning, he got no base pay increase and missed out on several incentives he thought he would qualify for.

He called a city hotline set up specifically for firefighter Prop B questions. He says the city hotline told him his check was correct. Friday morning, his was one of hundreds of Houston firefighter grievances complaining about a failure to implement the voter-approved measure.

Lancton explained, "(They are) filing grievances to ask why it is that the pay the mayor has told the public he has fully implementing properly, why he's not doing it?"

Mayor Turner is not answering specific questions on the implementation. He did put out a statement. In it, he says partly, "Although pay parity is not clearly defined in the language of Proposition B, the City has imposed the same or similar requirements for firefighters as those requirements established for police of the same or similar rank and pay... I still believe Proposition B is very bad financial policy for the City. However, I also believe the firefighters deserve a raise."

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