March 31, 2023 -- Today, the Texas Supreme Court struck down the so-called Pay-Parity Amendment [Proposition B] that would have required Houston to pay its firefighters the same compensation as its police officers receive even though the jobs, shift structure, training, education, pensions, and virtually all aspects of the two jobs are very different.
The Court held that Proposition B, approved by voters in 2018, was in conflict with Chapter 174 of the Local Government Code [collective bargaining], passed by the Texas Legislature and adopted in 2003 by Houston voters to govern their firefighters’ compensation.
In addition, the Court ruled on the firefighter union’s effort to force the courts to write the union’s contract with Houston under Chapter 174 based upon what they claimed was Houston’s failure to meet the statute’s compensation standards—the same standards the firefighter union sought to change through Prop B.
Although Houston challenged as unconstitutional the provision of Chapter 174 allowing courts essentially to write the parties’ contract, the Court disagreed and sent the case back to the trial court.
Contrary to false representations by the firefighters union today, the City has not been held to have violated the Texas Constitution or any statute, or to have thwarted the will of the people. The case has simply been sent back to the trial court for application of Chapter 174’s standards now that its judicial enforcement provision has been held constitutional.
“This is a huge victory for the City of Houston. I am grateful that the Court has clarified which of the directives the City received from the voters, in approving both Chapter 174 and Proposition B, the City must follow," said Mayor Turner "It would simply not have been possible for the City to comply with both, and the Court recognized that irreconcilable conflict. Worse, the ruinous financial burden the 2018 amendment would have placed on the City would have resulted in lost programs, services, and in layoffs, including firefighters.
"My hope is that the firefighters union will now forego efforts to try to strong-arm the City into meeting its unreasonable demands and come to the bargaining table in good faith. City officials are still waiting there.”