HOUSTON-- Patrick M. “Marty” Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association and the HPFFA board of directors announced the status of the firefighter equal pay ballot initiative Monday.
The HPFFA along with David Feldman, former City Attorney of the City of Houston and Sandy McGhee, the 11th District Vice President of the International Association of Firefighters served as speakers for the event, held at City Hall.
"With strong support from the Houston firefighters we are about to turn into the City of Houston petition seats with more than 32k validated signatures. We are asking the city to put the firefighter pay parity or equal pay ballot initiative on the November 2017 ballot." Lancton said.
The HPFFA managed to obtain 52,000 signatures in a little over a week, which is 50 percent more validated signatures than needed. The HPFFA signature drive is now being considered as the fastest and most successful petition drive in Texas history.
Feldman believes that these signatures prove the community agrees with them and knows that they are undervalued by the city. According to salary.com, the median annual firefighter salary in Houston was $45,442, as of June 28, with a range between $34,082 and $56,803.
"The Houston firefighters are at a breaking point. Our fleet and facilities are declining, our wages, benefits and working conditions are no longer competitive. We are losing firefighters to other departments. We are now asking the voters to help the Houston firefighters because the city refuses to do so," Feldman said.
Feldman discussed the success of the signature drive and his legal plans for moving forward with the city to get the initiative on the ballot.
This process is controlled by state law. The amendments and charters has to follow a process set by local government codes which requires that in order to get a charter amendment on the ballot you have to have at least 5 percent of the registered voters or 20,000," Feldman said. "I have never ever seen this amount of signatures gathered in such a short period of time. This is unprecedented. "