May General Meeting POSTPONED to May 16 due to inclement weather, likely flooding

Due to the severe weather in tonight’s forecast and a flash flood watch taking effect this afternoon, we will be postponing the May 9th General Meeting to the following Thursday, May 16, from 7–9pm at the usual location, Gulf Coast ALF, 2506 Sutherland Street, out of concern for comrades’ safety.

Please keep an eye on weather forecasts and reports of street flooding as you make it through today, take whatever safety precautions you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help: by email info@houstondsa.org or  by text (832) 930-6583.

Stay safe, and in solidarity,
Houston DSA Steering Committee

Houston DSA adopts resolution in support of Houston Firefighters’ struggle for pay equity and a fair contract

April 15, 2018 — Houston DSA announces its membership has adopted a resolution supporting the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (IAFF Local 341) in their ongoing struggle for pay equity, and denouncing Mayor Sylvester Turner’s threats to lay off hundreds of firefighters and cut emergency services to some of Houston’s most vulnerable communities.

The resolution, adopted at Houston DSA’s general meeting held Thursday, April 11, calls on Mayor Turner to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract that phases in pay parity for firefighters, and further condemns the Mayor’s latest legal challenge to workers’ collective bargaining rights.

“At its root, this is a labor issue,” says Hannah Thalenberg, Houston DSA co-chair. “Mayor Turner’s actions are a threat to collective bargaining rights and to all working people across Texas.”

Houston DSA urges its membership and allies in the progressive community to call their council members and demand that they:

  • Reject any measure authorizing firefighter layoffs or cutting any fire and EMS services to Houstonians;
  • Strongly oppose the City’s lawsuit against the firefighters’ union as a dangerous attack on workers’ rights;
  • Fully fund city workers and services by repealing the revenue cap, which disproportionately benefits the wealthy at the expense of working-class Houstonians.

The full language of the resolution is included below. For press inquiries, please contact info@houstondsa.org.

Houston DSA Resolution #5: Supporting Pay Parity for Houston Firefighters and Opposing Layoffs and Cuts to Fire and EMS Service

WHEREAS Houston is now the largest city in the United States that does not provide such pay parity between police and firefighters;

WHEREAS as a result of Mayor Lee Brown ending the City of Houston’s policy of pay parity for firefighters and police officers in 2001, Houston’s firefighters now earn considerably less than their counterparts elsewhere in Texas, with Houston paying its first-year firefighters 24% less than San Antonio, 33% less than Austin, 43% less than Dallas, and 54% less than Baytown;

WHEREAS in 2004 a revenue cap was pushed by Mayor Bill White upon the City of Houston in order to placate fiscal conservatives, dramatically restricting the amount of revenue the City can raise through taxation;

WHEREAS Mayor Sylvester Turner was elected in 2015, on a moderately progressive platform with the endorsement of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA), the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 341;

WHEREAS Mayor Sylvester Turner succeeded in passing a pension ‘reform’ bill, SB2190, in the 85th Texas Legislature of 2017, which using the slogan of “shared sacrifice” took away pension benefits of approximately $140,000 per Firefighter, $90,000 per Police Officer and $45,000 per municipal worker, as well as created pension obligation bonds investing $750 Million in the HPD pension,  $250 Million in the Municipal Workers Pension and $0 in the HFD pension.

WHEREAS the city was unwilling to negotiating a contract through collective bargaining with the HPFFA in 2016, and firefighters’ demands for fair pay led to the creation of a ballot initiative, ultimately known as Proposition B, which if passed would require the city to restore pay parity;

WHEREAS more than 32,000 Houston voters signed a petition to successfully place Proposition B on the ballot during July of 2017, and the city was forced by a lawsuit to count the ballot signatures by HPFFA lawsuit to be place on the ballot of the November 2018 election;

WHEREAS in the November 2018 election, 290,000 Houston voters approved the firefighters’ proposal, comprising 59% of the vote;

WHEREAS the Firefighters proposed to phase in the cost of these raises over 3 years through a collective bargaining contract with the City of Houston;

WHEREAS the Mayor could have easily placed revenue cap repeal on the same ballot, and worked in solidarity with the HPFFA to at once build public support for raising firefighter pay and remove the city’s crippling financial constraints;

WHEREAS the Mayor and the City of Houston have yet to implement pay parity, have demanded a five year phase-in with incomplete data that excludes full parity with HPD over incentive pay, and have responded with multiple plans for layoffs and closures, initially to lay off 378 firefighters, close six fire stations, and take two ladder trucks out of service, this week to layoff 287 firefighters and take more than a dozen apparatus out of service;

WHEREAS the Mayor and the City of Houston refuse to swear in 68 fire cadets at the Val Janke Training Facility, denying them civil service protections, and have sent them pink slips, indicating they will be fired this summer, while at the same time swearing in more than 130 police cadets;

WHEREAS the Mayor has further filed a lawsuit that, if successful, would effectively render union collective bargaining rights unconstitutional;

WHEREAS reactionary mayoral candidates such as the Trump fundraiser, Tony Buzbee, and former mayoral candidate, Bill King, have made overtures to the IAFF without expressing solidarity with the broader labor movement;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Houston Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America will adopt the following positions:

  1. Houston DSA joins IAFF and HFT to denounce the mayor’s legal challenge to collective bargaining rights;
  2. We oppose any plan by COH to cut firefighters or close fire stations, and ask Mayor Turner and the City Council to reject any budget that cuts fire and EMS services to Houstonians;
  3. We demand the mayor return to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract that phases in pay parity;
  4. We demand an end to the revenue cap that disproportionately benefits the few wealthiest property owners at the detriment of most Houstonians and we demand political leadership from the mayor’s office and our elected officials.
  5. We call for a true progressive challenger to all three mayoral candidates, who will fight for labor rights for all in the City of Houston.
  6. We reject any plans to privatize fire or EMS service.

Houston DSA Announces 2018 Primary Endorsements

HOUSTON – Houston DSA, the Houston Local of the Democratic Socialists of America, announces the endorsement of three additional candidates for the March 2018 primary, bringing the total number of endorsed candidates to four in this election cycle. The endorsements took place via a majority vote of the organization’s membership at its January general meeting on Thursday night. Continue reading “Houston DSA Announces 2018 Primary Endorsements”