Firefighters reject contract offer from city

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The membership of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 has overwhelmingly rejected a tentative contract that would have given them a 4 percent across-the-board raise in exchange for concessions regarding days off.


The Parker administration had sought the changes in hopes of reining in overtime costs that had busted the Houston Fire Department‘s budget earlier this year. The budget crisis had led the city to pull ambulances and fire trucks from the streets in recent months in a bid to control overtime costs caused by having to replace firefighters who took unscheduled days off.


That crisis was addressed in March with a temporary contract in which firefighters agreed to trade some freedom to take time off for a 2 percent raise and a $975 lump-sum payment. That deal expires June 30.


Some 2,709 firefighters – 93 percent – rejected the proposed contract in voting that ended at noon Tuesday.


The contract would have allowed for more flexible scheduling, improve a voucher program by which firefighters buy uniforms and equipment, and secure city promises not to hand its emergency medical service over to private firms or to replace the firefighters running it with civilians.


City officials had hoped to have an agreement ratified by firefighters and City Council in time to go into effect July 1.


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