Two weeks ago, I informed Chief Flanagan that Local 341 representatives would be making station visits to discuss union business. On Feb. 25, I apprised the chief of our intended schedule for the station visits, and requested that the District Chiefs be made aware of the schedule.
Here’s a newsletter sent to Houston Firefighters from the Union. Apparently, Acting HFD Chief Rick Flanagan has sent a message to the union. You can’t solicit at the fire stations:
On Friday, Chief Flanagan told me that he intended to refuse to let us conduct the station visits. His stated reason was that we would be discussing FirePAC, our political action committee. I asked the chief whether the decision had been made by him alone or at the direction of the Mayor’s office. He said the decision was his. Today, the chief formally denied our request for the meetings, citing Mayor’s Executive Order 1-51 which prevents “solicitation” at HFD facilities.
The chief’s decision is nearly unprecedented. With the exception of a former fire chief who sought to prevent a “no confidence” vote by firefighters, no chief during the past 25 years has refused to allow Local 341 to conduct union business at stations. As you would expect, we have assigned Rick Mumey, our general counsel the task of exhausting any and all legal actions against the City. We will update you again as developments occur.
In the meantime, I cannot overstate the importance of unity among our members in the current political environment. Look at the news headlines around the nation. Too many firefighters face pension controversies, layoffs and labor concessions as fire departments cut budgets and lose funding. HFD faces challenges as well, as you know. As the City of Houston prepares to spend millions lobbying during the upcoming legislative session — and the mayor has mentioned pension “reform” — we must prepare to fight to keep what we have earned. And that begins with the station visits.