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Casar offers item on firefighter recruiting

Monday, February 2, 2015 by Jo Clifton

The four minority members of the Austin City Council, with District 4 Council Member Greg Casar in the lead, have placed a resolution on next Thursday’s special called meeting agenda directing the city manager to stop the current request for proposal for a process to hire new firefighters and negotiate with the Austin Firefighters Association. Casar, along with Council Members Ora Houston, Delia Garza and Pio Renteria, are asking their colleagues to let the firefighters try to reach an agreement during bargaining that would lead to hiring firefighters in accordance with a consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice. The goal is to hire more minority firefighters, who are in short supply, and to satisfy the union’s demands for an appropriate professional yardstick for new applicants. If no agreement is reached within a timeframe that would allow full compliance with the federal agreement, the resolution says, the city manager is directed to bring forth a new RFP to the Council for its approval. The resolution appears to satisfy a request from the Austin Firefighters Association for another chance to have input into the hiring process. City management has not been receptive to the idea of continuing to negotiate on this item. However, it seems likely that it will pass, because the firefighters gave strong support to most of those now seated on the dais. In addition to the firefighters item, Council is scheduled to approve the appointment of its members to Council subcommittees and other intergovernmental bodies. Mayor Steve Adler is making the appointments, but needs approval of his colleagues for the appointments to take effect. Council will also have a briefing on land-use issues, the Comprehensive Plan and housing matters.

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