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Signatures gathered for firefighters’ ballot issues; See what’s next

PORT NECHES — Members of two local firefighters associations gathered enough signatures of registered voters in their respective cities to get spots on the ballot in the fall.

The Groves Professional Firefighters Association Local 1905 and Port Neches Professional Firefighters Association, IFF Local 3713, are seeking a charter change to allow for binding arbitration as well as a collective bargaining agreement.

The push for collective bargaining and binding arbitration likely comes from the International Association of Firefighters and Texas State Association of Firefighters, both of which support these regulations.

In Port Neches, a city representative said the association needed 348 signatures of registered voters for the collective bargaining issue and they submitted 661, of which 569 were verified as adequate.

For the binding arbitration they needed 432. They got 657 of which 563 were verified as adequate.

The association in Groves needed 455 verified signatures for binding arbitration. A total of 547 signatures were verified, according to information from the city.

They needed 333 signatures of registered voters in the city for the collective bargaining issue and they submitted 548.

The next step for Port Neches and Groves fire associations is for the petitions to go before the city councils for approval. After that the issues will be on the November ballot.

Capt. Tyler Hebert, president of the Port Neches association, said he had heard there were enough signatures submitted and the issue would likely be on the July 22 agenda for the 4 p.m. meeting.

If council approved the issues, then voters will have a chance to weigh in.

“There is still a little bit of work ahead for us,” Hebert said. “The hard part was getting the signatures.”

When it’s closer to election time, there may be town hall meetings where association representatives answer questions, but so far Hebert has not been approached about this, he said.

Hayden Grove, president of Groves Professional Firefighters Association Local 1905, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Representatives of both groups stressed to Port Arthur Newsmedia they are not having problems with their respective cities.