HOUSTON walked away from this contract
Can you imagine, 4 years without a contract, you are offered a 16% increase in pay in one year, no promotion tests for engineer, huge fixed rate increases for all skilled positions, even bi-lingual gets an increase, greater opportunit to promote the best member.
Insteead of dicuss the topic openly they walked without saying a word.
Right now the average guy is making $6500 a year in overtime, they have the best retirement system on earth, but are afraid to be accountable for their actions. If you read any of the three reports on their string of LODD fires you can see they aren't accoutable to anyone.
Read on and enjoy!
Table of Contents
1 Definitions 3-4
2 Duration 5
3 Recognition 5
4 Nondiscrimination 5
5 Preemption of Legal Rights 5-6
6 Classifications 6-7
7 Eligibility and Probation 7
8 Investigation of Firefighters 7-8
9 Union Privileges 8-9
10 Labor Relations Subcommittee 9-13
11 Discipline and Discharge 13-16
12 Grievance Procedure 16
13 Creation of Executive assistant 17
14 EMT Certification 17
15 Assignment Pay 17-18
16 Paid Time Off 18-19
17 College Tuition 20
18 Education Pay 20-22
19 Phase Down 22-26
20 Exempt Employees 27
21 Health Benefits 27
22 Work Shift 28
23 Regular and Overtime 28-30
24 Staffing 30
25 Physical Fitness 30-31
26 Elimination and Creation of Positions 31
27 Maintenance 31
28 Savings 31
29 Cost of Living Adjustment 31-32
30 Parity 32
31 Amendments 32
32 Ratification 33-34
Agreement Between the Houston Firefighters Union
as the Majority Bargaining Agent
For and On Behalf of All Firefighters
The City of Houston
This Agreement has been negotiated pursuant to the Meet and Confer provisions of Chapter 143, Subchapter J, Sections 143.351 et seq, Texas Local Government Code and entered into on the date below written. The parties to this Agreement are the Houston Firefighters’ Union, a non-profit Texas corporation (HFU) as the sole and exclusive Majority Bargaining Agent for and on behalf of all Firefighters of the Houston Fire Department (HFD), and the City of Houston, Texas (City).
WHEREAS, state legislation allows for an orderly and constructive procedure for cities and fire personnel to meet and confer regarding the effective and efficient administration of fire departments, having mutual regard for achieving and maintaining harmonious working environments and relations, the establishment of expectations of performance and excellence, the development of fair and equitable standards for wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for firefighters, and to provide for equitable resolution of differences which may arise; and
WHEREAS, supervisors and administrators exclusively responsible for management, personnel and operation of the Houston Fire Department, the City desires to voluntarily participate in the meet and confer process as an orderly and effective means to conduct relations with its firefighters in order to more effectively and efficiently provide services to the citizens of this City; and
WHEREAS, state law prohibits public employees from striking or participating in work slow downs, and the HFU on behalf of all firefighters has pledged to support the service and mission of the HFD and to abide by the statutorily imposed prohibitions in a constructive and positive manner by also voluntarily participating in the meet and confer process; and
WHEREAS, the City recognizes the HFU as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent with requisite authority to negotiate contractual terms in compliance with state and local laws; and
WHEREAS, this Agreement, being made under Subchapter J, Sections 143.351 et seq, of Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code, shall become effective and shall be enforceable and binding on the City, including the HFD and its administrators, and the HFU and all firefighters employed by the City of Houston Fire Department, only if ratified and adopted by each party in the form and manner required by state and local law;
NOW THEREFORE, and in consideration of the promises and covenants contained herein, the parties agree as follows:
Article 1 Definitions
The following definitions apply to terms used in this Agreement, unless a different definition is required by the context in which the term is used.
Accredited College or University - A college or university that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and/or by the state board of education in the state in which the college or university is located.
Benefit year - A period of 365 days beginning with September 1 through August 31 used for the purpose of awarding or calculating benefits payable to employees.
Board of Directors - The governing body of the Houston Firefighters’ Union.
Business Day - 8:00 A.M. through 5:00 P.M. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and/or Friday, excluding City approved holidays.
Note: All references to days in this Agreement are to calendar days unless specifically designated otherwise.
Chapter 142, 143 - Chapters 142 and/or 143 of the Texas Local Government Code; also includes any reference to any portion of Sections 142.001 et seq or 143.001 et seq, of the Texas Local Government Code.
Chief - The Fire Chief of the Houston Fire Department or his designee in his absence for any reason including disability.
City - The City of Houston, Texas, including all agents, employees, officers and elected officials.
Commission - The Firefighters’ Civil Service Commission of the City of Houston, and its predecessor the Firefighters’ and Firefighters’ Civil Service Commission of the City of Houston.
Contract grievance - Any disputes arising regarding any of the terms of this Agreement that may be brought on behalf of one or more firefighters by the MBA or on behalf of the City by the Fire Chief through specified procedures set forth herein.
Department or HFD - The Fire Department of the City of Houston, Texas.
Exempt officers - All rank officers in the HFD who hold the classification of Level 5,4 chief, Assistant Chief, Executive Assistant Chief, or Fire Chief.
Firefighter - All firefighters as currently defined in Section 143.003(5), who are employed by the Houston Fire Department (HFD) now or in the future. The term does not include civilian employees, retirees, employed by the Houston Fire Department and any other employees specifically excluded by the terms of this Agreement.
Firefighters employee group - An organization in which at least three percent (3%) of the firefighters of this City participate and pay dues via automatic payroll deduction, and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with the City concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work affecting fire officers.
Hire Date - The anniversary of employment service calculated from the date the firefighter was employed by the City as a fire cadet or a firefighter, whichever is earlier.
Human Resources Director (HR Director) - The Director of the Human Resources Department who serves as the Secretary of the Civil Service Commission and is responsible for the implementation of these provisions and compliance with these proceedings. The term Director includes any designee.
Majority Bargaining Agent (MBA) - The firefighters employee group selected pursuant to Section 143.355 to represent all firefighters employed by the City of Houston Fire Department. The firefighters employee group elected as the majority bargaining agent is the Houston Firefighters’ Union (HFU)
Mayor - The duly elected Mayor of the City of Houston, Texas, as prescribed by the City of Houston Charter.
Meet and Confer or Agreement:
(a) The statutorily created process and procedure to allow for election of a majority bargaining agent that has the sole and exclusive authority to negotiate with a public employer concerning wages, salaries, rates of pay, hours, working conditions, grievances, labor disputes, other terms and conditions of employment and other administrative matters of interest to fire officers at the City of Houston as set forth in Sections 143.351 et seq, Chapter 143, Subchapter J.; and
(b) A written contractual understanding of mutually agreed terms of employment conditions, benefits, wages, hours, etc. as adopted and ratified by the City and the Firefighters.
Exempt officers - All HFD Officers in pay grades titled exempt on the pay scale chart are excluded from receiving overtime at time and a half.
President - The elected president of Firefighters Local 341 in its capacity as the MBA.
Straight time - A wage rate calculation that includes base pay and longevity, certification pay, and DTO/FTO pay.
Sworn Date - The anniversary of employment service calculated from the date the officer was sworn in officially as a firefighter with the HFD.
Training- Monthly CE training hours as outlined by the Assistant Chief over Professional Development.
Union - Houston Firefighters’ Union IAFF Local 341.
Article 2 Duration
This Agreement shall be effective from the date ascribed below and shall remain in full force and effect until the close of business on June 30, 2004. The parties may amend any part of this Agreement at any time during the term of this Agreement in accordance with Article 45 herein. The parties to this Agreement may mutually agree in advance to enter into negotiations on or after November 1, 2003 or thereafter to amend, renew, or extend this Agreement before the expiration date. If the parties have not entered into negotiations or have not come to an agreement as to any amendments or a new contract prior to the expiration date of this contract, either party may notify the other in writing at least ninety days before the expiration date that it desires to cancel the Agreement. If neither party cancels the Agreement before the expiration date, it shall continue from month to month thereafter until it is canceled by either party in writing with ninety days notice.
Article 3 Recognition
The City recognizes the HPFFU Local 341 as the sole and exclusive MBA for all firefighters employed by the HFD. This includes all firefighters working in Suppression, Communication, Prevention, and Arson except for Executive Assistant Chiefs, Assistant Chiefs, and the Fire Chief.
Based upon the Association’s submission to the Employer of a petition signed by a majority of the Employer’s paid firefighters, excluding the head of the department and the assistant department heads, requesting that the Association be recognized as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for the Employer’s firefighters, the Employer recognizes the Association as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for all paid employees in the Houston Fire Department except the head of the department and assistant department heads in the rank or classification immediately below that of the department head.
Article 4 Nondiscrimination
The Employer and Association agree that no provision of this Agreement shall be construed or implemented in a manner so as to discriminate against any employee because of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, age, marital status, or sexual orientation. Nothing in this Agreement shall interfere with the right of the Association’s members to pursue allegations of discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, or disability with the Texas Commission on Human Rights or the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, or to pursue affirmative action litigation.
Article 5 Preemption of Legal Rights
As provided by TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE Chapter 143, Subchapter H, this Agreement shall supersede any previous statute or ordinance concerning wages, salaries, rates of pay, hours of work, and other terms and conditions of employment to the extent of any conflict with the previous statute; and shall preempt all contrary City ordinances, executive orders and rules of the Firefighters and Police Officers’ Civil Service Commission of the City of Houston. The Agreement expressly supersedes TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE §§ 142.0015 and 142.0017 to the extent that either section conflicts with the provisions of this Agreement. However, to the extent not expressly and unequivocally preempted by this Agreement, all rights provided to the employees by the Firefighter and Police Officer Civil Service Act, TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE Chapter 143, other state statutes, city ordinances, rules and/or regulations, including civil service rules, shall remain in full force and effect.
1. This Agreement does not supersede any federal laws or the federal jurisdiction of any United States District Court or Court of Appeals.
2. The City agrees not to adopt or impose any city ordinances, general orders, executive orders, rules and/or regulations, including civil service rules that may conflict with the terms of this Agreement.
Article 6 Classifications
Section 1. Classification Name Changes
The Employer agrees to and is, by ordinance, renaming and re-titling the following employee classifications:
Captain Captain – Suppression
Dispatcher Captain – Communication
Inspector Captain – Inspection
Sr. Dispatcher Sr. Captain – Communication
Sr. Inspector Sr. Captain – Inspection
Level 5 Chief
District Chief Chief of Suppression
Chief Dispatcher Chief of Communications
Chief Inspector Chief of Inspection
Chief Arson Investigator Chief Arson Investigator
Level 4 Chief
Level 3 Chief
Assistant Fire Chief
Level 2 Chief
Executive Assistant Fire Chief
Level 1 Chief
Classifications not listed will remain unchanged.
Section 2. Abolishment of Classifications
The Employer agrees to and will, by ordinance, abolish the following employee classification as they become vacant and at the same time will create an equal number of Captains to replace the abolished positions.
Junior Fire Alarm Dispatcher
Section 3. Mechanics
The classified positions of Mechanic, Shop Foreman (Shop Supervisor), and Master Mechanic shall be eliminated through attrition from the lowest classification to the highest classification subject to the following criteria:
(a) The number of Shop Supervisor positions will be reduced by ordinance through attrition. Future vacancies in Master Mechanic positions will be reduced by ordinance through attrition to one (1) position as required by referendum.
Section 4 Combining Captain and Sr. Captain Rank
The classified position of Captain of suppression will combine with Sr. Captain of suppression and result in one rank, Captain of Suppression. The current captains combining with Sr. Captains will receive the equivalent pay and benefits of Sr. Captain. The captains being elevated in pay and benefits will only be allowed to test for the next highest position in suppression, Level 5 Chief (District Chief) after two years at the new pay and benefits level. If the Captain desires the opportunity to test in another division the captain must take that promotional exam for that division from the previously held lower position. The purpose of this is to equalize the rank structure between HFD and HPD. Future contracts will abolish the name of Sr. Captain from the classification and the city will amend the Fire Department ordinance to reflect this change.
Section 5 Elimination of E/O promotional exam
December 13, 2001 will be the last E/O exam given by the Houston Fire Department. The E/O position will become available to firefighters with five (5) years of service and who have completed the training required to operate the fire department apparatus. After completing the training the E/O will be placed on a list and assigned to a station as positions become available. When assigned the E/O will receive the pay and benefits for that position. This is considered a promotion. When the E/O has completed two years of assignment the E/O is eligible for promotion to the next highest position in the different divisions. The criteria for eligibility and assignment will be created jointly by the MBA and the Fire Department administration.
Section 6 Sr. Firefighter position.
The position of Sr. Firefighter will be created under the terms and conditions of this contract. Firefighters with sixteen (16) and seventeen years (17) of service will receive Sr. firefighter pay and benefits as out lined in the compensation chart. The purpose of this is to equalize the rank structure between HFD and HPD.
Article 7 Eligibility And Probationary Period
Section 1. Eligibility for Beginning Position in Fire Department
All new hires either cadet or currently Texas Certified firefighters (ie; fast track applicants) will meet the eligibility requirements prescribed in TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE §§ 143.023 as a minimum for employment as a Houston Firefighter.
Section 2. Probationary Period
Notwithstanding the provisions of TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE §§ 143.027, a person appointed to a beginning position in the Fire Department must serve a probationary period of 18 consecutive months beginning on that person’s date of employment as a probationary firefighter or as a trainee continuously engaged in an authorized training program for the Fire Department.
Section 3. EMT Field Training
Cadets after completing EMT training and upon receiving the State of Texas EMT card, cadets will continue training for up to 6 months while working on a city of Houston Fire Department Ambulance as EMT’s. Cadets will work the same shift and receive overtime as other emergency operations members. It is the sole responsibility of the Houston Fire Department to hire and train cadets to become firefighters.
Article 8 Investigation of Firefighters
Section 1. Complainant
An individual who may be a complainant under TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE §§ 143.123 for an internal investigation shall also include a classified member of the Fire Department who witnessed or has personal knowledge of the event at issue in the investigation.
Section 2. Representation
An employee shall have the right to be represented at all IAD interrogations or polygraph examinations by the Association and/or legal counsel, except those interrogations conducted in connection with an on-the-scene investigation referenced in TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE §§ 143.123 (f).
Article 9 Union Privileges
1. The City/HFD shall deduct monthly union dues and other payroll deductions from each officer/member or non-member who has voluntarily authorized dues to be deducted from his/her biweekly pay. The letter requesting union dues deductions shall be signed by the President of the Union, or his designee.
(a) Any individual member or non-member of the MBA wishing to voluntarily withdraw his/her authorization for union dues or payroll deductions may only do so by appearing at the HPFFU Building and obtaining a dues deduction stop request form from the membership department. The completed dues deductions form shall be acknowledged by the President of the HPFFU or his designee. The member or non-member shall then personally deliver the completed and acknowledged form to the Deputy Director of Finance and Administration of the HFD, or his designee, with a copy forwarded to the union at the end of each calendar month.
(b) The City/HFD shall deduct special assessments authorized by the MBA’s constitution and By-laws upon written request of the MBA that is signed by its President.
(c) THE CITY/HFD SHALL NOT DEDUCT DUES OR DEDUCT ANY SUM PROVIDED FOR HEREIN UNTIL THE EMPLOYEE GROUP, AS IDENTIFIED IN CHAPTER 143.352 AND SO QUALIFIED AS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS AGREEMENT, PROVIDES A SIGNED DOCUMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT OR LEGALLY AUTHORIZED AGENT OF THE UNION OR OTHER EMPLOYEE GROUP AGREEING TO INDEMNIFY, DEFEND AND HOLD THE CITY/HFD HARMLESS AGAINST ANY CLAIMS, DEMANDS, SUITS, OR ANY OTHER FORM OF LIABILITY THAT SHALL ARISE OUT OF OR AS A RESULT OF ANY ACTION TAKEN BY THE CITY/HFD FOR PURPOSES OF COMPLYING WITH THIS ARTICLE.
(d) After the effective date of this Agreement, the City shall wire transfer dues or any other authorized payroll deductions or payments covered by this Agreement to the financial institution account designated by the MBA on the same business day as they are deducted from the officer’s city payroll check.
2. The MBA is allowed to post only general membership or union notices and announcements on the designated bulletin boards provided by the Department at each division at the decentralized stations and at each division at HFD Administrative Headquarters. The bulletin boards are provided as a courtesy and convenience for announcements affecting members, such as recreation and social events, meetings, elections, reports of activities, shared information from other law enforcement organizations, laws and judicial decisions affecting public employees, and are not intended as an open forum for opinions, commentaries, letters, or other written communication.
(a) Any matter posted on the bulletin boards must clearly identify the author and may not violate any General Order or include any disparaging, discriminatory, defamatory, or derogatory expressions, terms, comments or depiction’s, caricatures, illustrations or drawings whether generalized as a group/race or directed towards any specific person(s), ethnic/racial/gender/religious groups, or the department that would create any factionalism, friction, hostility, dissension or disruption in the work order and flow.
(b) Any item to be posted on the bulletin board must have the prior approval of the Chief which shall be granted if the specific requirements of this provision are complied with. Any item posted that is not in compliance with this provision shall be removed immediately at the Department's request. Any violations may void the privilege and opportunity to post any matter in the future, even if it complies with all the requirements.
3. The City shall continue to include on the department’s personnel information form a provision that would enable all officers covered by this Agreement to authorize the release of information contained on the form to the MBA.
Article 10 Labor Relations Subcommittee to Jointly Establish Assessment Procedures and Criteria
The Labor Relations Committee shall appoint a subcommittee of no more than eight members with four members each selected by the HFD and the MBA respectively from among its members and/or from among the members of the department to jointly continue to determine and monitor assessment procedures and select a vendor from criteria mutually agreed to by the committee members. Membership of the subcommittee should be as balanced as possible as to gender, race, age, rank, etc. All members must vote either in person or by proxy for selection of the vendor. Any tie vote or impasse on an issue of the subcommittee shall be broken by a vote of the Labor Relations Committee.
1. A list of consultants and possible vendors shall be developed through the Request for Qualifications process. The subcommittee shall establish criteria for selecting an independent consultant/vendor to professionally develop written examination questions and give written tests for promotion to the ranks of Captain, Senior Captain, District Chief, Deputy Chief and equivalent ranks. The subcommittee shall recommend a vendor to do testing and assessment and oversee the entire pre-selection process.
2. The critical elements for written validity testing shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) the selection of three books that are related to the job duties and responsibilities of the rank to be tested along with other materials reasonably related to the job at issue and/or the HFD;
(b) a forty-five to fifty day study period that begins when the vendor announces the booklist before a test is given;
(c) a multiple choice test with passing at a minimum score of 70% out of a minimum 100 questions;
3. At the time the test is announced, the Chief will declare the number of existing and anticipated openings to occur over the life of the list. This number shall not be deemed in any way to create an expectation of any kind that all such vacancies will ultimately be filled.
4. The test shall be graded immediately by the vendor with a written score provided to the participant. A list shall be prepared of all test takers and a preliminary rank order list of those that scored 70% or higher. Prior to and after testing, the finalized examination shall be kept in a safe and secure manner by the vendor.
5. Any member who has taken a written promotional examination may, within five business days of the posting of the written promotional exam results, review his/her examination results and file an appeal of any question(s) on the test. Examination reviews must be done on the firefighter's off duty time. The appeals shall be filed with the Labor Relations Subcommittee responsible for assessments. The appeals will be given to the vendor/consultant who shall respond to the appeal(s) within five business days and make a recommendation for a resolution of the question at issue to the subcommittee. The Subcommittee will determine within five business days after receiving the vendor's response what action needs to be taken on the question and inform the member and the consultant.
(a) If a new rank order list needs to be revised as a result of the removal of any question, the vendor/consultant shall create a new rank order list within three (3) business days and provide it to the Department to be posted.
6. The selected vendor, or a sub-vendor under the auspices and supervision of the selected vendor, shall also do an assessment of the highest ranked test scorers over a minimum score of 70% in the following manner:
Level 4 Chief top 10 ranked eligible; any additional assessments shall be in increments of 25;
Level 5 Chief top 25 ranked eligible; any additional assessments shall be in increments of 25;
Senior Captain top 25 ranked eligible; any additional assessments shall be in increments of 25.
Captain top 25 ranked eligible; any additional assessments shall be in increments of 25.
(a) The subcommittee shall establish assessment criteria based on job content and responsibility.
(b) The vendor will design the assessment cadre using a variety of exercises including, but not limited to, the following exercises: In-Basket; Problem Solving/Analysis; Oral Resumes/Structured Interviews; Leaderless Group Presentation; Role-Playing; Memo/Report Writing; Oral Presentation/Plan Preparation; Staff Meeting; Special event/Operations; and others as they are established and determined to be reasonably valid predictors of job related characteristics. The vendor is not required to utilize all of the exercises above, but may select the exercises or combine the listed exercises into one or more exercises that are best suited for the particular rank.
(c) The vendor shall also select the assessors who shall meet the following criteria:
(i) equivalent rank to the promotion, or above, from cities with a population of 200,000 or greater;
(ii) shall not reside in the Houston Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area;
(iii) shall not be related to any candidate for promotion;
(iv) shall not be personally known to any candidate for promotion;
(v) shall have at least two (2) years of experience in the rank being assessed or an equivalent rank; and
(vi) shall not be a current or former employee of the City of Houston, HFD, the MBA or any other HFD employee group.
(d) Any tie scores on the written test shall be broken by the standard tie breaking procedures currently in existence for written promotional tests.
(e) All initial and subsequent assessments should be done for each rank at or about the same time and by the same vendor; if not possible, any conflict should be resolved by the Labor Relations Subcommittee.
6. If the vendor fails or refuses to perform as requested, his/her contract shall be canceled.
7. The vendor shall conduct one or more orientation sessions for candidates prior to administering the assessment cadre. The vendor may not deem the orientation mandatory, since participation in the orientation is totally voluntary. Members eligible to be assessed shall be permitted, at their request, to attend one orientation session. Efforts should be made, and schedules changed if necessary in order to allow attendance at orientation and the assessment during a regular duty shift and avoid overtime. Those members who are working a shift just before the orientation shall attend in their off-duty time, but shall be permitted to use appropriate leave for time off to rest in advance of the orientation.
8. The assessors selected by the vendor will assess the candidates for the rank. The assessors shall score up to a maximum of 40 points for each candidate participating in the assessment without regard to the applicant's race, sex, religion, age or national origin. The assessment testing shall be videotaped.
9. Nothing in the assessment process may be appealed either to the Commission or to District Court.
10. After the assessment scoring has been completed, the total score shall be calculated by the vendor as follows:
Written Test Score
Captain maximum of 100 X .60 60 Pts.
Sr. Captain maximum of 100 X .60 60 Pts.
Level 5 Chief maximum of 100 X .60 60 Pts.
Level 4 Chief maximum of 100 X .60 60 Pts.
Captain maximum of 100 X .40 40 Pts.
Sr. Captain maximum of 100 X .40 40 Pts.
Level 5 Chief maximum of 100 X .40 40 Pts.
Level 4 Chief maximum of 100 X .40 40 Pts.
Seniority Points maximum of 10@ 1/year 10 Pts.
Education Points 1 for Bachelor's Degree 1 Pts.
2 for Master's Degree 1 Pts.
3 for Doctorate Degree 1Pts.
Maximum Possible Points 113 Pts.
A final, official rank order list shall be created of all eligible candidates assessed by the vendor in accordance with all the promotional procedures set forth herein. The final lists of eligible candidates shall remain in effect for two and one-half (2½) years for promotions to the ranks of Captain, Senior Captain, District Chief, Deputy Chief and equivalent ranks.
11. Promotions shall be made from the eligibility list in effect at the time a vacancy occurs. The 60 and 95-day provisions of Chapter 143 for promotions from vacancies with and without an existing list respectively shall remain in effect unchanged. Promotions shall be made within five (5) days of a final list being created. No back pay shall be awarded where a delay occurs in filling a promotion due to a delay in assessment or as a result of an appeal of the written test questions.
12. In addition to the above, the following formal education requirements for the ranks of Executive Assistant Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief, District Chief, Senior Captain, and Captain shall apply:
(a) All Level 3 and Level 2 Chiefs (Assistant and Executive Assistant Chiefs) appointed after July 1, 2002, shall be required to obtain a Master’s Degree or higher from an accredited college or university no later than the third year, based on calendar days, from the date of their appointment to the rank of Assistant or Executive Assistant Chief.
(b) All Level 5 and 4 Chiefs (Deputy Chiefs and District Chiefs) promoted after July 1, 2002, shall be required to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree or higher from an accredited college or university no later than the third year, based on calendar days, from the date of their promotion to rank of Level 5 and Level 4 chief.
(c) All Senior Captains and Captains promoted after July 1, 2002, shall be required to obtain an Associates Degree or higher or complete 65 hours towards a Bachelor's Degree or higher program from an accredited college or university no later than the fourth year, based on calendar days, from the date of their promotion to the rank of Senior Captain.
(d) All Engineer Operators promoted after July 1, 2002, shall be required to complete 65 hours towards a Bachelor's Degree or higher program from an accredited college or university no later than the fourth year, based on calendar days, from the date of their promotion to the rank of Engineer Operator.
(e) Any Executive Assistant Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief, District Chief, Senior Captain, Captain, or Engineer Operator and or equivalent ranks who is promoted and or appointed to his/her rank following July 1, 2002, who does not obtain at least his/her respective Master's, Bachelor's, Associate's degree, or 60 hours mandatory required by this provision, shall be demoted with no right of appeal back to the previous immediate permanent civil service rank he/she obtained prior to July 1, 2002, and shall be reassigned accordingly.
(i) If an Executive Assistant Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief, District Chief, Senior Captain, Captain, Engineer Operator, and equivalent ranks are demoted under the provisions of subsection (e), section 12, article 10 above, he/she shall not be required to achieve the educational requirements as specified for that position he/she has been demoted to, unless their promotion date to that demoted position is after July 1, 2002 as outlined in subsection a, b, c, or d outlined above.
(ii) If a firefighter who was promoted during the term of this Agreement under the educational requirements of subsection (a), (b) (c) or (d) of this provision, fails to meet the educational requirements as outlined above due to leave related to an ADA accommodation, FMLA or IOD, the time line for completion of the educational requirements is extended for an equivalent period of time equal to the ADA, FMLA or IOD leave(s) actually taken plus an additional 120 days.
13. If a firefighter is bypassed on the eligibility list created pursuant to the provision, the procedure for appeals set forth in Chapter 143 shall be used.
14. Effective January 1, 2003, firefighters shall not be eligible to take the promotional examination for the rank of Captain until they have completed at least five (5) continuous years of service from their hire date, excluding all temporary suspensions of ninety days or less.
Article 11 Discipline and Discharge
1. The Chief may suspend an officer for disciplinary reasons for a reasonable period not to exceed 15 calendar days. The Chief may not suspend an officer later than the 180th calendar day after the department discovers or becomes aware of the civil service rule violation except as provided by this Agreement and/or state law. A suspension is imposed and becomes effective on the date the Notice of Temporary Suspension is filed with the Commission.
2. Service-Temporary Suspensions:
(a) Personal service of the Notice of Temporary Suspension within the 180-day period is not required. The department is required to as immediately as possible serve the Notice of Temporary Suspension on the officer by the most expeditious means available under the circumstances.
(i) If personal service is not possible or ineffective after a reasonable attempt at such service, the Notice of Temporary Suspension may be mailed to the officer by certified mail, return receipt requested, with delivery restricted to the officer, at the last known address provided to the department by the officer. Service shall be considered to be complete as of the date the Notice was mailed by deposit into the U.S. Postal Service.
(ii) If Notice is not deliverable because the officer has not provided the department with the most current address or the officer fails to pick up or timely receive the Notice when presented by the Postal Service, the Notice is deemed served upon deposit into the U.S. Postal Service and no affirmative defense to timely service shall be allowed.
(iii) If the U.S. Postal Service fails to timely serve the Notice of Temporary Suspension through its fault, totally without fault or negligence on the part of the officer, the officer may assert an affirmative defense alleging untimely service for purposes of lodging a timely appeal under the appropriate provisions of Chapter 143.
(iv) The officer has 15 calendar days to file an appeal from the date of service in compliance with these provisions.
(b) So long as the Notice of Temporary Suspension is imposed on or before the 180th day, the days off enumerated in the Notice, may be served after the 180th day. If there is sufficient time, the days off may be served on or before the 180th day, but are not required to be.
3. If the Chief or officer offers a suspension of 16 to 90 calendar days for violations of civil service rules in lieu of an indefinite suspension, the officer may agree in writing to voluntarily accept the suspension with no right of appeal. The officer must accept the offer within 5 working days after the date the offer is made. If the officer refuses the offer and wants to appeal, the officer must file an appeal within 15 calendar days after the officer is served as described herein above.
4. The Chief, or in his absence from the City or disability, his designee, may indefinitely suspend an officer for disciplinary reasons for a violation of civil services rules. A Notice of Indefinite Suspension may be executed up to and including the 180th day after the date of the incident/event alleged to be a violation warranting an indefinite suspension. The indefinite suspension becomes effective at the time the Notice is filed with the Commission.
5. Service-Indefinite Suspensions:
(1) Personal service of the Notice of Indefinite Suspension within the 180-day period is not required. The department is required to as immediately as possible serve the Notice of Indefinite Suspension on the officer by the most expeditious means available under the circumstances.
(i) If personal service is not possible or ineffective after a reasonable attempt, the Notice of Indefinite Suspension may be mailed to the officer by certified mail, return receipt requested, with delivery restricted to the officer, at the last known address provided to the department by the officer. Service shall be considered to be complete as of the date the Notice was deposited into the U.S. Postal Service.
(ii) If the Notice of Indefinite Suspension is not deliverable because the officer has not provided the department with the most current address or the officer fails to pick up or timely receive the Notice when presented by the Postal Service, notice is deemed served upon deposit into the U.S. Postal Service and no affirmative defense to timely service shall be allowed.
(iii) If the U.S. Postal Service fails to timely serve the Notice of Indefinite Suspension through its fault, totally without fault or negligence on the part of the officer, the officer may assert an affirmative defense alleging untimely service for purposes of lodging a timely appeal under the appropriate provisions of Chapter 143.
(iv) The Officer has 15 calendar days to file an appeal of an indefinite suspension from the date of service in compliance with these provisions.
6. The Chief may indefinitely suspend an officer for a felony or state jail felony that occurred more than 180 calendar days prior to the imposition of the indefinite suspension if the officer has been charged with such felony by indictment or information.
7. The Chief and an officer may mutually agree to waive any of the time limitations imposed by this Agreement or Chapter 143 so long as the agreement is in writing and signed by the officer and his/her legal counsel, if he/she is represented by counsel, and the Chief or his designee.
8. In an appeal of any indefinite or temporary suspension, the department shall have the burden of proof. By a preponderance of the evidence, the department must show the truth of the charges and that just cause exists for the imposition of discipline, if any.
9. The Human Resources Director promptly shall order that the records of a disciplinary action that was taken against an officer be expunged from each file maintained on the officer by the department if the disciplinary action was overturned in its entirety on appeal by the commission, an independent third party hearing examiner, or a court of competent jurisdiction. Documents that must be expunged under this subsection include all documents that indicate disciplinary action was recommended or taken against the officer, such as the recommendations of a disciplinary committee or a letter of suspension. This subsection does not apply if the disciplinary action was only reduced and not overturned, or if the officer is charged with excessive force that results in a death or injury and the charge is being investigated by a law enforcement or criminal justice agency other than the department. Nothing contained herein shall require that Internal Affairs Division records be expunged under any circumstances.
10. In any cause of action, civil or criminal, no file, or any part thereof, maintained pursuant to 143.089(g) shall be released to any party to the action until relevancy is judicially determined and an application for a protective order limiting the use of such file in that cause of action has been filed. Prior to any release of any file, the Human Resources Director shall ascertain that an application for a protective order limiting the use of the records to the immediate litigation has been filed each time such file is sought in a civil or criminal action.
(a) The City of Houston Legal Department, or its designee, shall be responsible for all legal representation related to the preparation, filing and prosecution of any order required to carry out the purpose of this section.
(b) Nothing herein shall prevent the HFD from releasing such documents to another law enforcement agency or District or U.S. Attorney's Office working on a mutual investigation as currently provided by §143.1214(b).
11. Except for Internal Affairs Division files, nothing in this Article shall be construed to prevent an officer from having access to his/her personnel file maintained anywhere by the department.
12. The Behavior Manual of the Houston Fire Department shall be followed in regards to all counseling, coaching and/or discipline.
Article 12 Grievance Procedure
1. A firefighter may file a grievance as provided by Sec.143.127 of the TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE. However, effective July 1, 2002 any grievance filed on or after this date regarding a job performance review, will be limited to annual job performance reviews in which the officer’s overall grading is 2.5 or lower, additionally, a firefighter may file a grievance which relates to a written or oral reprimand, transfers, and job assignments.
Article 13 Creation of Executive Assistant Chief Rank and Position(s) and Approval of Appointments to Assistant Chief and Executive Assistant Chief of Fire
The Fire Chief may create an Executive Assistant Fire Chief rank, classification and position, and appoint no more than one Executive Assistant Fire Chief for every three Assistant Chief positions. Each appointment shall be created at the sole discretion of the Fire Chief to properly and adequately administer the department and allow for effective span of control. To become effective, only the approval by the Mayor shall be required. Appointments may be made from any rank or class of firefighter in the HFD so long as the appointee meets the minimum eligibility and qualifying requirements. Eligibility for appointment to the rank of Executive Assistant Chief, shall include at least a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university (not limited to a Texas state or private college or university) with a major in any of the arts or sciences, and at least ten (10) years of service from sworn date with HFD. If an Executive Assistant is selected from the current rank of Assistant Fire Chiefs during the term of this contract, the selected candidate will have 36 months to complete the minimum education requirements. Service at another fire department or law enforcement agency may not be substituted for any part of the ten-year service requirement. Under no circumstances can a candidate for the position of Assistant Chief or Executive Assistant Chief have previously served as president or executive board member with a local, association, International union or labor organization for a minimum period of one year prior to the appointment.
The Fire Chief, Assistant Chief, or Executive Assistant Chief will become inactive as a union member and prohibited from participating in union political activities during their tenure. This does not exclude the Fire Chief, Assistant Chief, or Executive Assistant Chief from participating in the relative assistance fund or other medical benefit programs previously offered to the appointed individuals as an active member in good standing of Local 341. The normal union dues will be suspended until such time as when the individual holding a position of Fire Chief, Executive Assistant Chief, or Assistant Chief no longer holds that position. If a member returns from such a position the member will not be required to owe back dues while being absent because the member held the position of Fire Chief, Assistant, or Executive Assistant Chief.
Article 14 EMT Certification
All Classified Members will hold the Texas Department of Health (TDH) certification as an Emergency Medical Technician Basic or Intermediate, or signed up to attend EMT training by June 30, 2004. The city will make every effort to train members as time and budget allows. Members may be exempt from this certification if the member has made his/her intent known to enter the Phase Down program and/or will be leaving or retiring from the fire department within 12 months of June 30, 2004.
Article 15 Assignment Pay
Section 1 Assignment Pay
All assignment pay rates are effective January 1, 2002. All certified Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) assigned to fire stations at Bush and Hobby Airport or filling in on temporary duty will receive $150.00 per month or the appropriate prorated amount.
All members assigned to work on the heavy-duty rescue trucks in HFD or filling in on temporary duty will receive $ 150.00 per month or the appropriate prorated amount.
All members assigned to work on the Hazardous Materials Team in HFD or filling in on temporary duty will receive $150.00 per month or the appropriate prorated amount.
All members assigned to Squads, ALS, and BLS units that hold the Texas Department of Health (TDH) certification as an Emergency Medical Technician Basic or Intermediate will receive $250 per month. Members not assigned to Emergency Operations working a 49-hour workweek are not eligible for this pay.
Members that are not assigned to Squads, ALS, BLS units, but hold the Texas Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Technician Basic or Intermediate Certifications will receive $100 per month starting immediately, $125 effective January 1, 2003, $150 effective January 1, 2004. Members not assigned to Emergency Operations working a 49 hour workweek are not eligible for this pay.
Members that are assigned as Non-Restricted Paramedics and authorized by the Medical Director will receive $500 per month effective January 1, 2002. Members that are eligible for this pay have the Texas Department of Health Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic Certification and function as a paramedic in HFD as authorized by the Medical Director of HFD. Members must be assigned to Emergency Operations working a 49 hour workweek or assigned to EMS Administration to be eligible for this pay.
Section 2 Bilingual Pay
Bilingual pay shall be provided by the employer in accordance with Texas Local Government Code 143.113 and applicable ordinance as in effect on the effective date of this agreement at the current rate.
Bilingual $ 69.23 $150.00
Section 4 District Training Officer, Field Training Officer & Paramedic Preceptor
All Classified Divisions shall be eligible for DTO/FTO pay at the current rate.
District Training Officer $ 115.38
Field Training Officer $ 75.69
Paramedic Preceptor $ 69.23
EMT Preceptor $ 45.00
The Fire Chief’s office shall determine the appropriate number and rank of DTO and FTO officers for each division. The selection of the DTO/FTO members will be selected by the Assistant Fire Chief over their respective divisions. The training of DTO/FTO members will be under the direction of the Assistant Chief over professional development.
Section 5 Clothing Allowance
Effective the first full pay period after January 1, 2004, firefighters in the Houston Fire Department who qualify for a clothing allowance shall receive an annualized increase of $450 to the clothing allowance previously paid. Clothing allowances shall not be included in a firefighter’s overtime rate of pay calculations. Clothing allowance is limited to the Fire Chief, Executive Assistant Chief, Assistant Chief, and members assigned to the Arson division.
Section 6 Staff Allowance
Classified members assigned to staff positions in non-suppression assignments will receive a staff allowance payable in equal bi-weekly payments based upon the annualized chart below:
Time Period Annualized Total
01/01/02 to 12/31/02 $1,200.00
01/01/03 to 12/31/03 $1,600.00
01/01/04 to forward $2,000.00
Article 16 Paid Time Off
The Department shall implement a leave program designated as Paid Time Off, hereinafter referred to as PTO. PTO shall incorporate and replace the present sick and vacation leave banks but shall specifically exclude the compensatory time off bank and holiday leave. A complete description of the PTO is set forth in Exhibit C attached hereto and incorporated by reference herein as though set forth verbatim.
1. Benefits under the PTO shall begin to accrue for new employees on the day the employee completes his probationary period as a firefighter. Leave accumulated during status as a fire cadet and a probationary firefighter shall be accumulated as leave in the Compensatory Sick Leave Plan (“CSL Plan”). Any leave accumulated in the CSL Plan will convert to the firefighter’s PTO bank on the date the firefighter completes his probationary status as described below.
(a) Cadets and probationary firefighters shall continue under the current policy of the City to accumulate credit for personal leave days while they are under the CSL Plan (1, 2 or 3 days within the previous twelve months).
2. PTO leave shall be based upon a benefit year that begins on September 1 and ends on August 31st of the following year. All benefits capable of conversion to PTO shall accumulate at the current rate between the effective date of this Agreement and September 1, 2002, when conversion takes place. The PTO program will become effective on September 1, 2002.
3. If the firefighter timely requested leave to prevent a loss of accruals and the department did not allow the firefighter to take the leave, the firefighter shall be allowed to carry over the 120 hours plus any additional hours of leave he requested but was not allowed to utilize by the department. Since accruals are bi-weekly, this may result in a subtraction of hours from a firefighter’s PTO bank. In order to avoid any forfeiture of hours, the firefighter must request time off from the department at least ninety days before the end of the benefit year in which the PFT hours were received.
4. Firefighters may schedule and take up to 320 hours of PTO within a benefit year. A firefighter may schedule and take up to 720 hours of PTO in a benefit year with the approval of the Fire Chief.
5. A leave event is unscheduled if leave is requested less than 24- hours prior to the start of the leave being requested unless approved by a supervisor. More than eight unscheduled leave events in a leave year may require a physician’s statement to be compensated as PTO.
(a) If a single day of PTO is taken for any reason, the leave event is considered a single event.
(b) If the PTO requested for any reason extends beyond one day, including two or more consecutive days up to a maximum of seven days, the total amount of time taken during that absence shall be considered a single event.
(c) If the PTO time requested extends beyond one day, the dates are not consecutive and include regular days off or holidays, then each day unscheduled time is requested may be considered a separate unscheduled event.
6. PTO taken for health related reasons requires notification to the supervisor that there is an underlying health related basis for the leave requested. If there is a serious health condition of a firefighter or a member of his/her family such that FMLA leave would be appropriate, when requesting PTO for such protected leave, the firefighter should indicate any FMLA or ADA related basis for such leave. Notification of a serious health condition requiring FMLA leave is mandatory so that the firefighter may receive the statutory and other notices and be sent any documentation/certification necessary to qualify for such protected leave.
7. PTO is not a short or long-term disability program and is not meant for extended absences. If a firefighter needs to take an extended leave of absence, the same authorization requirements apply under the Code of Ordinances whether such leave is paid or unpaid and whether or not ultimately compensated under the firefighter’s PTO balance or any other form of benefits or unpaid.
8. All other leave currently authorized by city ordinance and departmental policy will remain in effect unless modified by city council.
Article 17 College Tuition Reimbursement
Members shall be entitled to receive reimbursement for tuition and required fees related to educational courses (e.g. lab fees) at a college or university for course hours in an accredited college or university degree program in which a member enrolls during his/her employment as a firefighter. This does not include any correspondence courses unless offered by an accredited school or university. Ineligible costs include fees associated with parking, building use, gym fees, seat deposits or college hours that were required for admission, college hours obtained while in the Academy or while on probation or, more specifically, during the fifty-two (52) week period following graduation from the Academy.
Members are entitled to reimbursement for eligible costs as stated herein are not covered entirely from other sources such as VA/GI Bill, LEEP, scholarships, grants etc. Under no circumstances will a member be eligible to receive reimbursement for more than 100% of their actual costs.
Should a firefighter receive reimbursement from the City and receive additional funding from a third party so that the total reimbursement exceeds 100% of the member’s actual costs, the member must reimburse the City all funds, which exceed 100% of the actual costs.
1. Tuition reimbursement shall be limited to those fees and tuition required in Texas State supported colleges and universities for similar or related courses and shall only be paid at Texas resident rates if taken out of state.
2. For undergraduate and law school courses, grades equivalent to a “C” or better will be reimbursed at 100%. For graduate courses other than law school courses, only grades equivalent to a “B” or better will be reimbursed at 100%.
3. At the completion of a graduate or undergraduate course for which a letter grade is not given, the Department will reimburse on a passing or satisfactory rating or grade. On a multi-semester course in which a grade is not given or awarded until final completion of the course, reimbursement will not occur until final completion of the course.
Article 18 Educational Incentive Pay Training Pay
Prior to July 1, 2004, during the term of this Agreement, any firefighter who has or is awarded a degree by an accredited college or university, shall be paid biweekly incentive pay of $100.00 for a bachelor's degree, $200 for a master's degree or $300 for a doctorate. Effective the first full pay period after July 1, 2004, any member who has or is awarded a degree by an accredited college or university, the incentive pay biweekly shall be increased to $140 for a bachelor’s degree, $240 for a master’s degree or $340 for a doctorate. These amounts are not cumulative for advanced degrees so that only one bi-weekly award may be paid based upon the highest degree awarded. Acceptable certification of the award of a degree must be provided before the Educational Incentive Pay shall be paid.
HFD Training Pay - Training level awards are based on a firefighter’s sworn date with the Department and training points earned during employment. Members shall earn one Department training point for every ten hours of HFD training satisfactorily completed.
Under the terms of this Agreement, Training Pay is payable to qualifying firefighters only after the required number of points for each level have been achieved along with the required years of service. They are:
Departmental Years of Service Achievement Level Houston Fire Department Training
1-6 Years Step One 50 points
7-11 Years Step Two 66 points
12-16 Years Step Three 78 points
17 Years Step Four 88 points
Members shall continue to receive their HFD Training Pay at the levels established below effective 03-01-02(or when contract is ratified):
Achievement Level Current Award New Incentive Amounts Effective date
Step One None $11.54 Bi-Weekly July 1, 2002
$34.62 Bi-Weekly March 1, 2003
$53.85 Bi-Weekly January 1, 2004
Step Two None $45.39 Bi-Weekly July 1, 2002
$60.78 Bi-Weekly March 1, 2003
$76.16 Bi-Weekly January 1, 2004
Step Three None $86.94 July 1, 2002
$106.17 Bi-Weekly March 1, 2003
$129.25 Bi-Weekly January 1, 2004
Step Four None $153.16 Bi-Weekly July 1, 2002
$183.93 Bi-Weekly March 1, 2003
$318.55 Bi-Weekly January 1, 2004
Members are responsible for reporting training and education received outside the Department to ensure their training and education records are current and accurate.
The Department shall update training and education records when firefighters receive training and education by or through the Department. The Department shall timely report to TCFP the training and education completed by each member and approved by the HFD Training Division for state certification purposes.
If the Department fails to timely update training and education records and/or report same to TCFP, the Department shall be required to pay any training certification incentive pay that is lost as a result of any untimely updating or reporting. “Untimely” shall mean a delay of more than 30 days in updating and/or reporting from the date the member files the completed training report with the Department and does not include any delay caused by TCFP or any out of Department training not reported timely by the member.
Firefighters currently with years of service will be awarded training points for years served and will have the opportunity to increase to the next highest achievement level capping at level 4. These points for years of service are as follows:
Departmental Years of Service Achievement Level Houston Fire Department Training
1-6 Years Step One 36 points
7-11 Years Step Two 42 points
12-16 Years Step Three 54 points
17 Years Step Four 64 points
Article 19 Phase Down Program
The Phase Down Program (PDP), provides firefighters an option to the current lump sum cash distribution of sick, vacation and compensatory time leave balances. Phase Down will allow firefighters with an election to take leave and extend the payment of their accrued PTO leave bank balance and compensatory leave bank over a period of time up to and including the total amount of leave in their banks.
1. During the period of time a firefighter is participating in Phase Down Program, the firefighter is considered actively employed by the City of Houston Fire Department as a firefighter.
2. Firefighters who elect to participate in the Phase Down Program will be subject to the following conditions and privileges:
(a) Firefighters may elect to participate in PDP based upon total classified fire departmental seniority. Seniority shall be based upon the seniority list produced by HFD Personnel Division in accordance with the departmental policy in effect on the date this Agreement is ratified and thereafter.
(b) There shall be two (2) election periods in each calendar year.
(i) In the first year of this Agreement, the election for 2002 shall take place on July 30, 2002, or on the first business day thereafter, or within 60 calendar days of the effective date of the Agreement, whichever is earlier.
(ii) The second election period shall begin on December 1, 2003.
(iii) In each successive year of the term of this Agreement, the election periods shall commence on July 1st, or the first business day thereafter, and December 1st, or the first business day thereafter.
(c) A firefighter must report to the Personnel Division of the Houston Fire Department within 20 (twenty)-business days before the first day of the election period to enroll and make his election.
(d) After the initial group of firefighters enters the PDP, the effective date of each subsequent Phase Down period shall be January 1 through June 30 and July 1 through December 31.
(e) The enrollment list created under each election period shall expire at the end of the respective Phase Down period.
(a) During the first election period of Phase Down, the Department shall select 75 (seventy-five) firefighters to participate in the program. Selection of firefighters for participation in the program shall be based upon department seniority within a rank. The first election period shall begin on January 31, 2002, or the date of ratification of the Agreement, whichever is later. In successive years of this Agreement, the enrollment period shall begin on June 1st. In the first election period the number of firefighters who may enter the PDP per rank are as follows:
Level 2 Chief or above 2 or less
Level 3 Chief: 5 or less
Level 4,5 Chief: 7 or less
Sr. Captain / Captain: Suppression, Arson, Prevention, Communication 15 or less
Engineer Operator / Firefighter 46 plus the remainder of the 75 not filled by the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain or assistant chief.
(g) The second election period of Phase Down shall begin on December 1st. In the second election period the Department shall select 75 (seventy-five) Firefighters to participate in the program. Selection for participation in the program shall be based upon departmental seniority within a rank. In the second election period the number of Firefighters who may enter Phase Down per rank are as follows:
Level 2 Chief or above 3 or less
Level 3,4,5 Chief 10 or less
Sr.Captain 8 or less
Captain 14 or less
E/O/Sr.Firefighter/Firefighter 40 plus the remainder of the 75 not filled by the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain or assistant chief.
(h) In successive election periods in years following 2001, the Department shall authorize up to 75 additional firefighters to participate in the program. The Department may increase the maximum participation above the 75 number limit of firefighters in each enrollment period. The selection of additional firefighters above the 75 minimum per each enrollment period shall be based upon Department seniority and at the sole discretion of the fire chief.
(i) Once a firefighter has been notified of his selection, the firefighter will execute a written IRREVOCABLE election to commence his participation in Phase Down. The form utilized to commence a firefighter’s participation in Phase Down shall contain at least the following information:
a. Firefighter’s name, address, telephone number and payroll number;
b. Date the form is completed;
c. Effective date of the election to commence participation in Phase Down which must be within the current election period;
d. Language as may later be agreed upon by the MBA and the Department advising the firefighter his election to commence participation in Phase Down is IRREVOCABLE. Such language shall be in all caps and underlined so as to be conspicuous;
e. The designation of a beneficiary;
f. Whether the firefighter is suffering from an incapacitating injury, as described herein; and
(j) Upon the effective date of a firefighter’s IRREVOCABLE election to commence participation in Phase Down, that firefighter’s position in the Department is vacant as a matter of law. The vacancy shall be filled in accordance with the applicable provisions of the TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, to include §143.108, and as the Code or this section may be amended from time to time, and the relevant case law.
(k) The firefighter’s election to commence participation is IRREVOCABLE, except when the firefighter, on the effective date of his election to participate in Phase Down, is suffering an injury in the course and scope of his duties that occurred on or before the effective date of the election. If the firefighter is returned to full duty by his treating physician, the firefighter shall immediately be placed into Phase Down effective the date of his release to full duty.
(l) If the firefighter’s injury is an incapacitating injury, the firefighter shall have 30 days from the date he is returned to full duty to decide whether to enter Phase Down immediately or he may choose to enroll during the next scheduled sign up period. An incapacitating injury is defined as an injury which, in the opinion of the treating physician, would prevent the firefighter from returning to full duty within 60 days of the election date to commence participation in Phase Down. The opinion of the treating physician shall be based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
Conditions, Restrictions and Revocation:
(m) During the time in which a firefighter is participating in the PDP, the firefighter’s PTO bank shall be valued and paid on the previous 12-month average of their base and longevity pay that shall be electronically deposited in the firefighter’s designated account.
(n) During the time a firefighter is participating in Phase Down, the firefighter shall not accrue PTO leave. The firefighter shall observe and be paid for city holidays, as designated by City Council, except for the floating holiday. Such holiday observation shall not cause a deduction in the firefighter’s Phase Down bank.
(o) The first day of the firefighter’s participating in Phase Down shall not be deducted from the firefighter’s leave bank and shall be designated as a processing day.
(p) Firefighters in Phase Down are permitted to obtain gainful employment of a fire and/or non-fire related nature. Extra employment shall require approval of the Department. Approval of extra employment shall be in accordance with the Guidelines of the Department. Firefighters in Phase Down shall be limited to 40 hours of fire-related extra employment in a one-week period. The Fire Chief, at his sole discretion, may revoke an extra employment permit without any right of appeal.
(i) In the event a firefighter in Phase Down has committed a serious act of misconduct, the Fire Chief, at his sole discretion, may revoke the firefighter’s participation in Phase Down and tender to the firefighter a lump sum payment calculated in accordance with this Agreement. A limited appeal may be taken by the firefighter. The appeal will be heard by the same arbitrators who have been selected to hear contract grievances. The decision of the arbitrator shall be limited to upholding the Fire Chief’s decision to revoke the firefighter’s participation in Phase Down or returning the firefighter to Phase Down. The Department shall have the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence.
(ii) In order to appeal such a decision by the Fire Chief, the firefighter shall file a written appeal indicating he disagrees with the decision of the Fire Chief. This appeal shall be filed with the HR Director within 15 calendar days of the date the firefighter receives written notification from the Fire Chief that the Chief has elected to revoke the firefighter’s participation in Phase Down.
(iii) The hearing shall be held within 60 days and a written opinion shall be tendered to the parties within 15 days of the close of the hearing. Only one continuance may be granted per side that may not exceed 15 days for good cause shown or for unavailability of the arbitrator. In no event may a continuance be granted for more than 15 days. The firefighter shall continue in Phase Down during the pending appeal. The decision of the arbitrator is final and binding on the parties. Costs shall be divided equally between the Department and the appealing firefighter.
(q) If a firefighter in Phase Down is injured in the course and scope of his employment as a firefighter, as defined by statute and case law, and the firefighter suffers an incapacitating injury which endures for 60 days or more, the firefighter’s election to participate in Phase Down may be voided and the firefighter may elect to receive a lump sum payment for the balance of his leave bank. This election shall be at the discretion of the firefighter. Such payment of the lump sum shall be made to the firefighter in a timely manner. This voiding of the election and the receipt of a lump sum payment shall not effect any worker’s compensation medical or indemnity payments or any other related benefits to which the firefighter may be entitled. There shall be no salary continuation benefits, as provided for by Sec. 142.008 after the date the Phase Down election is voided due to the incapacitating injury and the lump sum payment benefit is paid.
(r) Firefighters in Phase Down must obtain sufficient in-service training to comply with training standards as promulgated by the Texas Fire Commission. This training shall be completed on the firefighter’s own time and expense. The Department will make available facilities for firefighters to receive the required C/E training at the Academy. Training availability shall be posted on the Department’s web site. A firefighter may also elect to obtain the required training at the firefighter’s expense from another source. If the Department requires a firefighter in Phase Down to attend an in-service course other than those required by TFC the time spent by the firefighter at the mandatory training shall not be deducted from the firefighter’s Phase Down bank. The firefighter must be notified by the Department of this requirement by certified mail, return receipt requested mailed to the firefighter’s last known address as provided at the time of entry into Phase Down. Firefighters, on their own time, must also qualify with their primary duty weapon pursuant to standards established by the Department except that a firefighter in Phase Down must qualify during his/her birthday month. Proof of participation in or attendance at in-service training at a provider other than the HFD Academy shall be forwarded by the firefighter to the Houston Fire Department Training Records Section. Such information shall be forwarded in such form as required by the Houston Fire Department Training Records Section in order that the training and qualification information may be forwarded to TFC. Failure to fulfill these requirements may result in disciplinary action and affect the firefighter’s certification.
(s) Each firefighter participating in Phase Down shall maintain all rights, benefits, incentives, allowances, privileges and immunities as provided for by statute, ordinance, agreement and/or common law that the firefighter enjoyed prior to entering Phase Down, except as expressly noted herein.
(t) A firefighter in Phase Down may elect at any time during his/her participation in Phase Down to convert the balance of his Phase Down bank to a lump sum payment. The value shall be determined based upon the value at which it was accrued. All leave-accumulated prior to the ratification date of this Agreement shall remain certain. This election to convert to a lump sum payment shall be IRREVOCABLE AND EFFECTIVE ON THE DATE SO DESIGNATED ON THE CONVERSION FORM. A conversion form shall be developed and approved by the Department and the MBA.
(u) If a firefighter in Phase Down dies, the balance of his Phase Down bank shall be paid to his designated beneficiary. The value shall be determined based upon the value at which it was accrued.
(v) A firefighter in Phase Down who assumes an office of civil emolument converts the balance of his Phase Down bank to a lump sum distribution effective on the date the firefighter takes the oath of office. This election is by operation of law. The value shall be determined based upon the value at which it was accrued.
(w) The leave in a firefighter’s Phase Down bank shall be utilized in accordance with the accounting principle of “first in - first out.” The exception is the 75% of up to 1,040 hours in a firefighter’s No Value Leave (NVL) bank shall not be utilized unless the firefighter is suffering a long-term disability and has exhausted all other leave and the incident which caused the long-term disability was not a work related incident for which the firefighter would or is receiving workers compensation benefits.
Article 20 Exempt Employee Additional Compensation Time
Effective January 1, 2002, exempt employees are considered exempt from overtime compensation for all intents and purposes under the Fair Labor Standards Act. All compensatory time balances that exempt firefighters have on December 31, 2001 shall be frozen in a reserve bank at the firefighter’s rate of pay (all pay except equipment and clothing allowance) on that date and may be utilized in the normal course of business, paid at retirement or utilized in the Phase Down Program. Effective January 1, 2002, the Fire Chief, at his sole discretion, shall authorize either compensation and/or exempt time credit at the firefighter’s straight time rate of pay for court appearances, assignments, and/or special projects that warrant special consideration and extraordinary effort. Any compensation paid will be considered assignment pay. Straight-time rate of pay includes base pay and longevity pay, certification pay, education pay, and DTO/FTO pay. Exempt time credit earned and accrued shall have no cash value. Utilization of exempt time credit shall be on an hour for hour basis.
The equipment and clothing allowance is a reimbursement and shall not be included in the FLSA regular rate of pay for any purpose including overtime calculations.
Mandatory Overtime or Court Attendance: Any non exempt firefighter who is ordered to work overtime or to attend any court or judicial proceeding in his/her off-duty time as required because of his/her duties as a Houston firefighter will be paid overtime at time and a half.
Article 21 Firefighter Health Benefits
During the term of this Agreement, the following conditions will apply to the medical benefits and contribution levels for employees covered by this Agreement:
1. Employees covered by this Agreement will continue to be eligible to enroll in the health plans offered to city employees, at the same benefit levels that are in effect on July 1, 2001, with the following conditions; if the health benefits plan design changes are required in order to keep the plans reasonably priced during this Agreement, those plan changes that are applicable to other city employees will apply to the employees covered by this Agreement. This Agreement in no way limits the scope or type of plan design changes that the City may implement for its covered population of employees, retirees, and dependents, nor does it prohibit the City from exercising Termination For Cause procedures with the vendor, if necessary.
2. The City shall maintain its current contribution rate/ratio to the health plan at a level that will be greater than or equal to the percentage that exists at July 1, 2001, which is approximately 88% in the aggregate. This city’s contribution includes premiums, claims, prescription payments, and the administrative fee currently included in the calculation. This current contribution rate/ratio does not include any cost increase that is a result of any actions by any other governmental bodies that would result in a legislative change in benefits that the city does not anticipate.
3. Eligible firefighters covered by this Agreement shall pay no premium or component higher than any other city employee group.
4. The duration of this clause shall continue until the end of the Initial Term of the health benefits contract with the health care vendor (April 30, 2004), or the end of this Agreement, whichever occurs first.
Article 22 Firefighters Work Shift
Firefighters assigned to suppression duties such as assignment to suppression or EMS units will work a 49-hour workweek consisting of working one debit day every 24 days on a 24 day FLSA cycle. Firefighters working this debit day shift must actually work the 49-hour workweek to be eligible for paid Modified time in excess of 46.7 hours as outlined by the State of Texas governing hours worked by firefighters. Vacation, holiday, or sick time will not be credited as modified time worked. If the firefighter has not worked the scheduled debit day the firefighter’s pay will not include the 8 hours of modified time provided by the scheduled work shift. Firefighters working this 49 hour work shift agree to the terms of the 49 hour work shift and waive any claim or litigation against the city for unpaid modified time if modified time hours were worked under this 49 hour work shift. It is agreed that the modified time hours resulting from increase in the workweek from 46.7 to 49 will be compensated according to the following schedule:
January 1, 2002 - December 31, 2002 Time and one fourth (1.25)
January 1, 2003 - December 31, 2003 Time and one third (1.33)
January 1, 2004 - expiration Time and one half (1.5)
Firefighters working in Communications:
Firefighters working in communication, also known as dispatch, will work a 40-hour week. The Fire Chief will determine the shift.
Firefighters working in Fire Prevention:
Firefighters working in inspection, also known as Fire Prevention, will work a 40-hour workweek. The Fire Chief will determine the shift.
Firefighters working in Arson as Arson Investigators:
Firefighters working in Arson, also known as Arson Investigators, will work a 40-hour workweek. The Fire Chief will determine the shift.
Article 23 Regular and Modified time Compensation
The department will attempt to achieve an acceptable staffing level to maintain four firefighters on suppression apparatus and use overtime firefighters to fill needed positions. Positions will be filled on a rank for rank basis in years 2003 and 2004. During the year 2002 the city will use firefighters to fill the lower positions needed (firefighters), and will pay higher class for the needed positions in higher ranks. Modified time is outlined in Article 22.
Compensation of this contract is as follows:
EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2002
CLASS CODE RANK BI-WEEKLY BI-WEEKLY GROSS ANNUAL GROSS
0662.1 Firefighter Trainee 1,020.97 1,020.97 26,647.32
0103.4 Probationary Firefighter 1,083.43 1,083.43 28,277.52
0103.3 1st Year Firefighter 1,209.22 1,209.22 31,560.64
0103.3 2nd Year Firefighter 1,272.09 1,272.09 33,201.55
0103.3 3rd & 4th Year Firefighter 1,338.72 1,338.72 34,940.59
0103.3 5th, 6th, & 7th Year Firefighter 1,422.19 1,422.19 37,119.16
0103.3 8th, 9th, & 10th Year Firefighter 1,462.48 1,462.48 38,170.73
0103.3 11th, Year Firefighter 1,540.05 1,540.05 40,195.31
0103.3 12th Year & Over Firefighter 1,679.72 1,679.72 43,840.69
0103.3 Senior Firefighter 16th year and under 1,684.62
0103.3 Senior Firefighter 17th year and under 1,711.54
0103.2 Engineer/Operator 3rd & 4th Year 1,684.62 1,684.62 43,968.58
0103.2 5th Year & Over Engineer/Operator 1,711.54 1,711.54 44,671.19
0102.9 Junior Fire Alarm Dispatcher
5th through 9th Year 1,759.67 1,759.67 45,927.45
10th through 16th Year 1,820.38 1,820.38 47,511.94
17th Year and Over 1,918.67 1,918.67 50,077.38
0103.0 Senior Captain/ Captain Suppression
0103.7 Fire Alarm Dispatcher
0102.7 Senior Inspector
0129.1 Shop Supervisor
0104.4 Senior Investigator
7th through 9th Year 1,964.68 1,964.68 51,278.15
10th through 16th Year 2,032.45 2,032.45 53,046.95
17th Year and Over 2,142.23 2,142.23 55,912.20
0102.3 District Chief Exempt
0104.7 Chief Inspector Exempt
0129.0 Master Mechanic Exempt
0104.3 Assistant Arson Investigator Exempt
0102.5 Chief Fire Alarm Dispatcher Exempt
0102.4 District Chief (Training Officer) Exempt
9th Year Exempt 2,225.03 2,225.03 58,073.28
10th through 16th Year Exempt 2,302.03 2,302.03 60,082.98
17th Year and Over Exempt 2,426.37 2,426.37 63,328.26
0102.2 Deputy Chief Exempt
0104.1 Assistant Fire Marshal
0104.2 Arson Investigator (Chief) Exempt
0103.6 Deputy Chief Communication & Index
1st & 2nd Year (In Grade) Exempt 2,548.08 2,548.08 66,504.89
3rd through 5th Year (In Grade) Exempt 2,702.88 2,702.88 70,545.17
6th Year and Over (In Grade) Exempt 2,778.80 2,778.80 72,526.68
0102.1 Assistant Fire Chief Exempt
0104.0 Fire Marshal Exempt
1st & 2nd Year (In Grade) Exempt 3,575.64 3,575.64 93,324.20
3rd through 5th Year (In Grade) Exempt 3,664.46 3,664.46 95,642.41
6th Year and Over (In Grade) Exempt 3,755.36 3,755.36 98,014.90
Executive Assistant Chief 1st & 2nd Year Exempt 4,130.90 107,816.49
3,4 &5th Year Exempt 4,234.17 110,511.84
6th Year and over Exempt 4,340.02 113,274.52
Article 24 Staffing
The Houston Fire Department will maintain staffing levels of four firefighters on fire suppression apparatus to improve firefighter and public safety. Maintaining four firefighters on 100% of fire suppression apparatus will be achieved at all times. The city is not responsible for a lack of 4 firefighters on all fire suppression apparatus for reasons of an excessive number of members using sick time (35 members per day or more), firefighters refusing overtime, or unexpected disasters.
Article 25 Physical Fitness and Agility Programs
Physical Fitness Evaluation:
Beginning January 1, 2002, firefighters covered by this Agreement may participate in a Physical Fitness Evaluation (PFE). Firefighters may utilize their own personal physicians or Academy staff to have their cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate, and body weight checked.
Any documents or test results associated with the PFE shall be the express property of the individual firefighter who is voluntarily participating in the program. Under no circumstance shall any person be allowed to review, possess, or utilize in any manner, any medical information or test results obtained through a firefighter’s participation in the PFE.
Physical Agility Test:
Effective September 1, 2002, firefighters covered by this Agreement, except for those in Phase Down, will participate in a Physical Agility Test (PAT) at least once in a 24-month period. The test shall include the following with the corresponding minimum requirements to be met in order to obtain the Physical Agility Test Benefit (PATB):
1.5 mile run - To be completed in a maximum time of 17:00 minutes
300 meter run - To be completed in a maximum time of 71 seconds
Agility run - To be completed in a maximum time of 18.2 seconds
Push-Ups - Must be able to complete 22 push-ups
Alternate test - Bench press a minimum of 63% of body weight
Vertical jump of 18.5 inches
Alternate test - Leg press 21% of body weight
Exhibit “D” attached hereto sets forth the detailed requirements which are incorporated by reference herein as though set forth verbatim.
Firefighters who complete the PAT and meet the minimum passing requirements established by this Article and complete the PFE shall receive eight (8) hours of PFT, to be awarded and utilized in the next benefit year. In no event will a firefighter be able to earn more than eight (8) hours of PFT in a 24-month period.
The provisions of the workers compensation law, while participating in the Physical Agility Test Program or training at an HFD authorized location, will cover firefighters, unless excluded by the Act and/or court decisions.
Article 26 Elimination and Creation of Positions and Tests
July 31, 2002 the position of Captain will be elevated and combined with the rank of Sr. Captain. The rank will be called Captain. This will equalize the rank differentiation between HFD and HPD bringing the two labor organizations closer to true parity. The Captains will be assigned to stations and used at the discretion of the District Chief. Refer to page 6 & 7 article 6 Classifications. The Jr. Dispatcher, Inspector, Arson Investigator, and Captains test will combine and be given as one test. Upon passing the test a list will be created from highest to lowest score including seniority points. When a position becomes available the firefighter has the option of by passing (rejecting) the position 4 times. After the 4th by pass (rejection) the firefighter is removed from the list and relinquishes any right for promotion from that list. A firefighter accepting a position will remain in that division for a minimum of three years.
Article 27 Maintenance of Standards and Benefits
All rights, privileges and working conditions enjoyed by firefighters under existing federal and state laws on the effective date of this Agreement shall remain in effect and unchanged for the duration of this Agreement unless changed by this Agreement, mutual consent, legislative amendment or judicial decree. More specifically, these include, but are not limited to:
1. HFD's obligation to supply uniforms and related accouterments;
2. Clothing allowances for those assignments currently receiving them;
3. All special and other specified pay rates set forth in Chapters 142 or 143 of the TEXAS LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE;
4. Court attendance requirements and compensation for attendance;
5. Current policy, practice and procedures on injury-on-duty leave and its application to a second year of IOD leave; and
6. Current extra job policy with respect to the maximum number of hours that may be worked.
Article 28 Savings Clause
If any provision of this Agreement, or the application of such provision, should be rendered or declared invalid by any court action or by reason of any existing or subsequently enacted legislation, the remaining parts or portions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.
Article 29 Cost of Living Adjustment
Effective beginning the first day after the scheduled expiration date of this Agreement (July 1, 2004), the following Cost of Living Adjustment will be applied for firefighters' base compensation to be paid:
Firefighters’ base compensation shall be adjusted upward annually, effective the first full pay period after January 1st of each year, at a rate equal to two-thirds of any percentage increase in the Houston-Galveston Consumer Price Index-Urban for the preceding available 12-month period.
Article 30 HFD/HPD (Houston Police Department) Parity
As a result of this second Meet & Confer Agreement, the Fire Department is being significantly restructured and reorganized including the addition of a new rank (Executive Assistant Chief). Considerable concessions were made by both parties to agree that the Fire Department will maintain the position of E/O and recognize this is a needed position and this position will not be used as a non-parity issue or conflict with the compensation schedules and other incentives included in this Agreement.
To the extent the City desires to maintain “base pay” parity as between the Fire and Police Departments, because of the restructuring and reorganization, based upon comparable duties, spans of control, etc. such parity may only be linked according to the following comparative rank structure:
HPD Rank HFD Rank
Police Officer Firefighter
Senior Police Officer Engineer Operator/ Senior Firefighter
Vacant (FLSA Exempt) Captain Support
Sergeant Captain Suppression
Lieutenant Level 5 Chief (FLSA Exempt)
Captain (FLSA Exempt) Level 4 Chief (FLSA Exempt)
Assistant Chief (FLSA Exempt) Level 3 Chief (FLSA Exempt)
Executive Assistant Chief (FLSA Exempt) Level 2 Chief Executive Assistant Chief (FLSA Exempt)
Article 31 Amendments
This Agreement may not be changed or altered in any manner except by mutual agreement. Any amendments of this Agreement shall be in writing, shall contain an effective date, and shall be dated and signed by authorized representatives of the respective parties. All amendments shall be ratified in the same manner as provided by state law for original ratification.
Article 32 Ratification and Repeal
This Agreement being made under Subchapter J of Chapter 143, shall become effective and shall be enforceable and binding on the parties only if the parties ratify and approve their respective participation and assent to the terms of this Agreement through the ratification process mandated by Chapter 143, or by local law, whichever applies.
It is agreed that the signature of the respective parties certifies that the persons indicated have the express authority to bind the organization and that the authorization has been accomplished in compliance with state or local law.
Agreed to this ____________ day of_________________, 2001, to be effective on the date set forth in the City Ordinance approving and authorizing the City's participation in this Agreement.
ATTEST/SEAL Houston Fire Firefighters' Union
as the Majority Bargaining Agent
By: _____________________________ By: ___________________________
Name: _____________________________ Name:_________________________ __
Title: _____________________________ Title: ____________________________
CITY OF HOUSTON, TEXAS
Lee P. Brown, Mayor
APPROVED: COUNTERSIGNED BY:
______________________________ __ ______________________________ __
Chris M. Connealy, Chief of Fire City Controller
APPROVED AS TO FORM: DATE COUNTERSIGNED:
Sr. Assistant City Attorney