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There’s new HOPE for a new agreement with the City of Houston

Photo credit: Getty
By Joseph Windham, HOPE, and Antonio Lewis, AFSCME ·

HOUSTON – Members of the Houston Organization of Public Employees (HOPE AFSCME Local 123) held their first meeting of 2021 this month and began discussing the priorities they want to see included in their next “meet and confer” agreement with the City of Houston. The current agreement expires in June.

With new leadership in place, HOPE is focused on encouraging greater participation from rank-and-file members as they select a negotiating team and set their bargaining priorities. The goal of the HOPE 2021 Meet & Confer negotiations process is for members to stand together on the issues that matter the most to them. Under Texas law, collective bargaining agreements are referred to as meet and confer agreements.

“These are challenging times, but we’ll be more prepared than ever because we’re committed to making sure each and every HOPE member is a real part of this process. This time, we’ll be fighting alongside each other. This time, we’ll be fighting as one,” said HOPE Local 123 Executive Director Brian Shepherd.

Unlike in years past, HOPE members are not seeking a labor management meeting to win support from the city before beginning negotiations, thanks to Mayor Sylvester Turner honoring the contract.

As HOPE members begin choosing members of the negotiating team, HOPE Secretary and Election Committee Chair Diane Shepherd (no relation to Brian Shepherd) said she’s committed to making sure the team “stands firm on our priorities.”

“This isn’t a joke and this isn’t a game. We are going to fight because we know the impact we can make,” said Ms. Shepherd, a customer service clerk for the Houston Police Department. “We’re setting the example here for what can be done when we do it together.”

Compensation – especially hazard pay – workplace health and safety, and the issues of discipline, corrective action and promotions are all concerns many members have raised, HOPE officials say. In past agreements, members were able to secure significant improvements to their pay, workplace policies and benefits.

(Contributing: Raju Chebium)

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