Houston’s firefighters currently are paid on average 60% less than police and are working on a petition that needs 20,000 voter signatures by July 21, 2017, to get fair pay issued on the November 2017 ballot.
Firefighters will be submitting 32,000 validated signatures to the City after collecting 52,000 signatures with more pouring in.
“Election experts tell us that this is one of the most successful and fastest petition drives in Texas history,” Patrick M. Lancton, president of Houston Professional Firefighters Association, said.
Aside from getting fair pay on the ballot, the petition calls for an election to amend the Houston City Charter to also protect firefighters and their families from City Hall politics.
“The City has destabilized the wages, benefits, working conditions, and retirement security of Houston firefighters – at the state capitol and in Houston City Hall,” Lancton said.
Back in 2005, Houston voters approved collective bargaining for the city’s firefighters which allows the representatives to negotiate the salary and benefits of the firefighters. Their last budget was approved two years ago and expired this year.
Local firefighters have been urging Houston leaders to negotiate a new contract, suggesting using a neutral third party, and the City has refused arbitration forcing a lawsuit to be filed by the Professional Houston Firefighters Association.
“Let’s be clear now: This petition drive was necessary because Houston firefighters are at a breaking point,” Lancton said.
“Our fleet and facilities are declining. Our wages, benefits and working conditions are no longer competitive. We’re losing firefighters to other departments. We now are asking the voters to help Houston firefighters because the City refuses to do so.”
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