City, firefighters agree on mediator

City leaders and the union representing the city’s firefighters have agreed to a mediator who will work to reach an agreement on the implementation of Proposition B.

Judge Tanya Garrison said that both parties have agreed to let Dave Matthiesen, a well-known Houston lawyer, mediate the dispute over the voter-mandated pay parity between firefighters and their Police Department counterparts.

Garrison has also ordered both parties to continue mediation until a settlement is achieved or until Matthiesen determines an impasse has been reached.

The main sticking point in the dispute is the amount of time needed to roll out Prop B and how many layoffs will occur based on the time frame.

HPFFA has agreed to a 3.5-year implementation, but only if the union can be granted access to the city's financial records and that no layoffs happen.

Mayor Sylvester Turner has said that layoffs will be necessary to institute Prop B within that time frame. He said that five years of rollout would be needed in order to prevent layoffs.

Lancton released a statement Monday that read:

"Houston firefighters welcome the order of the court regarding mediation. Only time will tell if Sylvester Turner is serious about using mediation to negotiate implementation of Proposition B. Last week, he was against mediation. Now, after the court order, he's for it. So far, the mayor has avoided working with us for two years, offering every excuse imaginable for not resolving our differences. As for mediation, our team is ready to sensibly address all of the issues before the court. We appreciate the opportunity to go before a neutral mediator and finally make some progress with the city. We will do whatever it takes, 24 hours a day, if necessary, to give the mediation a chance to succeed."

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