One day after Houston voters approved a sweeping pay raise for the city’s firefighters, union officials called for an end to “divisive politics” and a return to collective bargaining, even as Mayor Sylvester Turner said the ballot initiative’s passage would force him to downsize the Houston Fire Department, cause response times to rise and endanger public safety. Department, cause response times to rise and endanger public safety.
While voters definitively approved Proposition B Tuesday to grant firefighters pay parity with Houston police, firefighters and Turner appeared at impasse over how to proceed Wednesday. Union officials reiterated their call for a return to collective bargaining to hammer out a contract for the city’s 4,000 firefighters, while Turner appeared unwilling to take such action, arguing the city “cannot renegotiate the people’s vote.”
In a statement later, a mayoral spokesman said city officials do not believe they can use collective bargaining to override a voter-approved charter amendment.