January 3, 2024 -- In a clear indication that he will follow through on his promises, Mayor John Whitmire met with representatives of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association this morning. Within the first five minutes of the discussion, Mayor Whitmire directed City Attorney Arturo Michel to withdraw the appeal of the City’s challenge to the court’s consideration of past fiscal years 2018 through 2024 backpay. This begins the process of ending his predecessor’s long-running court fight over fair pay and benefits for Houston firefighters.
“I want the City to remove itself from the court process as much as possible and focus on resolving this long-standing dispute as fairly and quickly as possible,” said Whitmire. “I stated repeatedly on the campaign trail and in my inaugural address that our first responders will not have to fear court action during the Whitmire Administration. I am following through on that promise.”
Mayor Whitmire and Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton both directed their respective lead attorneys, City Attorney Arturo Michel and HPFFA attorney Troy Blakeney, to begin meeting this week and remain in constant contact until there is agreement on a path forward.
“Within 72 hours of taking office, Mayor Whitmire is moving forward to implement the promises he made to Houston firefighters during the campaign,” said Lancton. “After eight years of acrimony, we are finally headed in the right direction. It is hard to express how much it means to Houston firefighters and their families to have a leader who respects them and will follow through on what he says.”
In mid-December, State District Judge Lauren Reeder upheld the constitutionality of Senate Bill 736 mandating binding arbitration when collective bargaining reaches an impasse and ordered the city and the fire union to return to contract negotiations. The former Mayor was challenging the constitutionality of the Senate bill.