NO DEAL: Prop B talks end, leaving next steps unclear in long fight over pay raises

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner explained Friday why he and the firefighters union couldn't come to an agreement on pay raises after another day of mediation.

Friday morning, court-ordered mediator David Mattheisen told a Harris County judge that despite a final session Thursday, "the parties have not been able to resolve the matter. I am therefore declaring our negotiations at an impasse."

It brings an end to a short-lived jump-start of talks between the city and fire union to come to an agreement on implementing firefighter raises. The city has said it will implement Prop B and has said firefighters would start getting raises next week.

At the same time, 205 firefighters received layoff notices last week. Hundreds more received notice of their demotion this week. Both the layoffs and demotions will go into effect July 1, the start of the city's new budget year.

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As he emerged from mediation Thursday night, Mayor Turner told reporters, "We don't have a deal and because of the mediation, I can't go into the details... The city went beyond what was on the table. It's unfortunate it was not accepted."

Asked about future meetings, Turner replied, "This is it."

Before the impasse was declared, Firefighter Union President Marty Lancton sent Mayor Turner and city council a letter offering to take a four-year deal to a membership vote within two days if the city met certain conditions. The conditions included:

- Fully equalized pay rank by rank with Houston police
- A full release of city financial data detailing base and incentive pays
- No mass firefighter demotions or layoffs
- A recognition of Prop B as a lawful representation of the voters' will

The letter from the union ends with a willingness to continue mediation. The conditions attached, however, have been non-starters with the city in the past.

Later in the morning, Mayor Turner said the proposal with the four-year deal was different from the demands the city agreed to which were:

- A three-and-a-half-year phase-in of Prop B
- No layoffs or demotions of classified firefighters
- Swearing in of 67 cadets
- No educational requirements

"They're asking the city to agree that Proposition B continues to live forever. That is certainly new from what they previously demanded," the mayor said.

"I want to make it clear that the fire union cannot keep moving the goal post. By law, the city must balance its budget before the start of the next fiscal year July 1," he continued. "The fire union said it did not want layoffs. This is a self-inflicted wound. It cannot keep accusing the city of not doing everything to presenting a resolution, especially when the city is agreeing to its stated public terms."

The mayor said 47 municipal workers will be laid off because of Prop B.

On May 10, firefighters will be issued lump sum checks from January 1 through the first part of May, totaling about $31 million, Mayor Turner explained.

WATCH: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner explains failed negotiations with firefighters
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City and firefighters fail to reach deal on pay raises, leaving next steps unclear

Lancton responded to Mayor Turner's remarks.

"This is not about implementing Proposition B. For the mayor, this is about killing Proposition B," Lancton said. "The mayor refuses to say when, how and whether or not he will respect the will of nearly 300,000 voters."

Lancton directly addressed the mayor's comment that the fire union has been "moving the goal post," saying that "if anyone understands moving the goal post, it is this mayor. Because lack of transparency and shifting positions make resolving this extremely difficult every day."

Lancton said that the mayor demanded the impasse. "We were willing to continue to negotiate. A lot of people stayed up throughout the night to work on a resolution to which was presented to the city and they refused a four-year agreement to phase in voter-approved Proposition B."

He claims that firefighters did not deny the proposal, nor did they agree to it. Lancton said they asked for 12 hours to work on the resolution, coming up with the proposal that was eventually sent to the mediator.

WATCH: Houston firefighters' union responds to Mayor Turner on Prop B
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Firefighters' union responds to Mayor Turner

Without any further talks, it appears the city will move ahead with layoffs and demotions at the end of June.

A court ruling on the constitutionality of Prop B was on hold to allow mediation a chance to work. It is unclear when Harris County Judge Tanya Garrison may rule.


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