After announcing a tentative agreement to end an almost eight-year labor dispute between the City of Houston and its firefighters, both groups just announced the details of the deal which will now be sent to a judge for final approval. 

The groups reached an agreement for the city to pay $656.5 million to settle the dispute. $650 million will go to the firefighters for 7 years of backpay, the number of years they went without reaching a collective bargaining agreement, and $6.5 million will be paid directly to their attorney for attorney’s fees. 

The settlement will be paid using a judgment bond without bringing it to voters for approval. 

“The decision ensures fiscal responsibility while prioritizing fair compensation for vital public safety personnel. Judgment bonds, issued by the City of Houston, will cover the back pay owed to firefighters for the eight years they worked without a contract. This approach rectifies past grievances and safeguards the city’s financial stability by ensuring budgetary capacity for a new five-year contract with the competitive wages essential for firefighter recruitment and retention,” read the statement. 

In addition to the back pay settlement, the administration will keep in place 18 percent pay increases approved by the previous administration, and they will get another 10 percent raise at the start of the fiscal 2025 year. By the end of the life of the 5-year agreement, firefighters will have increased their pay by up to 39 percent. 

The settlement will be submitted to a judge for final approval after which Mayor John Whitmire said he will hold a press conference with the union. 

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.