The largest teacher’s union in the city of Houston has taken back the support it pledged for Sylvester Turner, the city’s mayor. The union says they are not in agreement with the mayor over a dispute the mayor has with a city firefighters union regarding Proposition B.
The board of executives for the Federation of Teachers in Houston was unanimous in its decision to rescind their support for Turner. Mayor Turner runs for reelection in November of this year.
The teacher’s union released a statement saying they would no longer support Turner due to ongoing litigation by the city in Texas Appeals Courts. The city seeks through litigation to render the collective bargaining rights by the Firefighters Association unconstitutional. The teacher’s union expressed belief teachers have become collateral damage in the matter.
Proposition B was passed by Houston voters in November. The proposition declares firefighters eligible for identical pay as police officers of similar status. The city of Houston has yet to grant the pay increase for firefighters.
Zeph Capo, president of the teacher’s union, explains the mayor would likely receive the support of the union once again if the dispute over Proposition B is resolved before the November elections. Capo explains the teacher’s union has placed a heavy investment in Turner and would like to continue their support of the mayor. However, Capo says the mayor’s interference into the process of collective bargaining is a line in the sand that will not be crossed by the teacher’s union.
Fire Union President Marty Lancton says negotiations with the mayor have halted with eight months remaining before the elections.
Turner released an open letter on Friday in which he explained he offered a proposal to firefighters that would allow Proposition B to be phased in over time. Turner says his proposal would decrease the likelihood of layoffs or reduced services caused by budgetary issues.
The mayor stated in the past that as many as 1,000 city workers would lose their jobs to offset estimated costs of $100 million per year to implement Proposition B.
The current case going through the appeals process results from 2017 lawsuit filed by the firefighters union against the city of Houston. The suit was filed after the city declined to take part in arbitration and the sides failed to reach agreements in talks held with a mediator. The union has also asked a court to issue a court order that would compel the city of Houston to implement Proposition B.