CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – In the latest salvo in City vs. the Corpus Christi Firefighters Association, the City is suing the union to stop what it calls unfair campaigning in public over collective bargaining issues.
On Thursday, an attorney for the firefighters demanded that the City show proof that their Become a Hero Fire Education Safety campaign had hurt negotiations between them and the city.
On Friday morning, the City announced it would be suing the Firefighters Association to stop their Fire Education Safety campaign, claiming the issues are the same ones that are on the bargaining table and should only be discussed there.
City Manager Ron Olson announced after executive session discussions about contract talks that firefighters were violating collective bargaining rules. He said public discussion by firefighters in Council about a new voter approved fire station and a fire safety campaign known as Become a Hero were improper.
A union attorney said that, when the City walked away from the talks on Wednesday, the City violated the same rules.
A spokesperson for the City said they hope the contract talks resume soon.
“At 10 o’clock this morning, the City decided to go ahead and issue a lawsuit in regard to the firefighters. We felt it was important that we represent the interest of taxpayers, and we felt it was almost a forced issue because we really wanted them to comply with having a fair negotiating table,” said Kim Womack of the City of Corpus Christi. “We’re asking a judge to make the determination as to if the social media and the billboards are a violation of fair bargaining.”
“Any lawsuit brought against the Corpus Christi Professional Firefighters Association is totally without merit,” Union President Carlos Torres said. “The City of Corpus Christi’s attempting to bully the Corpus Christi Firefighters Association and prevent them from effectively representing our members.”
While both sides accuse the other of violating bargaining rules, the talks are on hold.
State law prevents police and firefighters from any labor action like strikes or sick outs. Those laws also call for automatic contract renewal in the event of an impasse. Although the talks would have gone to federal mediation on June 10, they can be extended indefinitely until the bargaining is complete.