When municipal employees see a 3 percent raise on their August 3 paycheck, they’re benefiting from months of organization, research, negotiation and collaboration between the City of Houston and Houston Organization of Public Employees - HOPE AFSCME Local 123.
The agreement provides across-the-board wage increases of 3 percent in Fiscal Year 2019, 2 percent in Fiscal Year 2020, and 1 percent in Fiscal Year 2021, with the possibility of an additional 1 percent wage increase in Fiscal Year 2021 if city property taxes and sales taxes reach a specified level.
Dedicated city employees sat on both sides of the table to reach a mutual agreement on the new three-year term ending June 30, 2021. After the contract was ratified by HOPE members and approved by City Council, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he was pleased with the process and the outcome of the negotiations.
“It went very smoothly,” he said. “In the end, it was a win-win for both the employees and the City of Houston. It was an example of when you come to the table in good faith, you can get a good result. I think when people recognize that you are not working against them, you can get there together.”
During Turner’s administration, the city has overcome financial hardships without layoffs, and was able to find room in the budget for municipal raises. Mayor Turner said that this contract shows that the city acknowledges the recent shared sacrifices made by employees.
“You have to respect what people do and recognize the value that people bring,” Mayor Turner said. “When you deal with people in good faith, people will be willing to make sacrifice in difficult times if they believe that will be rewarded for those sacrifices when things improve.”
Both HOPE President Melvin Hughes and HOPE Executive Director Gary Simmons echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“I think this is great for city employees,” Hughes said. “It means a lot when you know that your employer appreciates you. It means a lot to be able to have a voice, have a seat at the table and then walk away from negotiations with a good feeling.”
Simmons attributed the successful outcome to a strong spirit of collaboration.
“It didn’t feel adversarial at all,” Simmons said. “We all felt there were tasks to get accomplished from both sides, but the only way to get there is through a collaborative effort.”