As you are aware we started contract negotiations at the beginning of June. We had several productive meetings with the City’s negotiating team; however, the last two weeks we have been on hold as the City conducts a pay study of our market counterparts, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio. Of course, we were prepared and had already done pay comparisons, but as with City bureaucracy they did not initiate their pay study until we had already started negotiating. Once their study is completed we will continue our regular contract meetings with them.
Something to keep in mind as the rumor mill continues to turn, with no end in sight, you all will have to vote on this contract. If you hear a rumor of something being given up or negotiated away, ask yourself this simple question: “Would I vote for the contract if xxxx was given away?”
If the answer is “NO” I wouldn’t vote for the contract, then it is not being considered in that room. For those that have not been through this before, once we have an agreement, we will put out all the information through eblast, push notification on our APP, Facebook, Twitter and we hold several informational meetings (across all shifts) at the Union hall where the contract will be presented to you. Concurrently with the information going out, we will open the Union building for 24 hours a day seven days straight, for you to come by, look at the new contract, ask questions and ultimately vote on the contract.
Firefighters Pay Parity Petition
Once again making the news is the Pay Parity Petition from the Houston Professional Firefighters Union. For those that aren’t aware, Houston firefighters are seeking pay parity with Houston police officers. This petition will likely be on the ballot in November and if it passes will almost immediately face a legal challenge.
Although former HPOU President Ray Hunt laid out our position on this a year ago in the Badge and Gun, I felt the need to touch on it again. Let’s be clear, Houston Police Officers and the HPOU 100 percent support Houston firefighters receiving a raise. The brave men and women of HFD work very hard and are deserving of a pay raise.
However, we are 100 percent opposed to pay parity with Houston police officers. It is simple: we do not perform the same job functions as firefighters. Simply because we are labeled both “first responders” does not mean we do the same job. It would be the equivalent of the HPOU asking for pay parity with the city attorney because we both handle “legal issues.”
The firefighters will yell, “This is about fairness!” Well let me tell you that there is nothing further from the truth. There is absolutely no language in their petition that gives Houston police officers a raise if Houston firefighters were to pass us in pay. In addition, there is no provision in that petition to give all of us who do not have DROP (myself included), for us to receive it, because someone with the same time as I have/has DROP on the fire department.
Our position is that firefighters should be compared to their market counterparts, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and San Antonio, when deciding their pay raises, just like we are!
The firefighters will yell, “But there is pay parity in NY, LA, Chicago and Dallas!” I am here to tell you in those places pay parity is a complete train wreck and a constant obstacle for police officers. In addition, what the firefighters won’t tell you is that Pay Parity is nearly extinct in this country. Labor leaders/experts will tell you this is an outdated practice, one that has been abolished over the last generation, including here in Houston over 20 years ago.
We need to move forward as a City, not backwards. Our position on this issue is 100 percent reasonable, but watch as we will be turned into the bad guys in the entire debate because we don’t blindly support whatever is presented by firefighters. That is fine, we are here to take care of the 5,200 families that we represent and we will be your voice to what is an unreasonable request from Houston firefighters. One that we do not agree with and could easily plunge the City into financial uncertainty.
Thank you Sally, Hello Mary Nan Huffman
It is with joy and sadness that I inform everyone that Sally Ring has left the HPOU. We received her two-week resignation last month as she is going to start the next chapter of her life with her own firm. Sally has agreed to continue to represent officers in conflict cases as one of our contract attorneys. Sally has been with the HPOU for close to 10 years and has done an outstanding job representing officers in both administrative and criminal cases. She will be greatly missed here at the HPOU, but we wish her nothing but the best for her future and congratulations on starting her own firm. Sally will be keeping her same phone number, so if you have any family or friends that could use an attorney please send them her way, I am sure she would appreciate it.
Thanks Sally for everything you have done and continue to do for the members of the HPOU.
Replacing Sally Ring as one of our full-time attorneys will be Mary Nan Huffman. Mary Nan comes to us from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office where she served as the Chief Prosecutor of the Internet Crimes Against Children Division and Child Exploitation. She has been an attorney for more than 10 years, has won several awards over her distinguished career and came highly recommended from our good friend Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon.
Please feel free to stop by and introduce yourselves and welcome Mary Nan to the HPOU family.
Just a quick manpower update thus far this calendar year, our attrition is currently at 117 officers (as of July 24th). The academy classes that have graduated thus far this calendar year is Class 233 (64 officers), Class 234 (68 officers), Class 235 (57 officers) for a total of 189. If the attrition rate holds, we will have 197 departures in calendar year 2018, and the remaining two academy classes that will graduate this year are Class 236 (50 officers) and Class 237 (70 officers). That will make for 197 leaving and 309 coming in, a net gain of 112 officers. Although our pledge that all of City Council and the mayor signed, runs on fiscal years, I just felt the need to present the most current numbers so that everyone knows help is on the way and the ship is moving in the right direction.
As always, be safe out there and if you need anything I am only a phone call, text (832-283-9492), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), message on Facebook, DM on twitter (@JoeGamaldi), away.