A Louisiana judge ruled Friday that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was in contempt of court and ordered him to pay New Orleans' firefighters what the city owes them in the next week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported, noting that Landrieu would be placed on house arrest if he did not comply. Civil District Judge Kern Reese of the Orleans Parish additionally ordered that the mayor and the city’s firefighters union come to an agreement in the ongoing litigation over the firefighters' pension fund, New Orleans' WDSU-TV reported.
Earlier this year, the firefighters union filed for a contempt of court charge against the city, alleging it did not follow through on a judge’s order to pay firefighters back wages they were owed. This has caused months of mediation and court proceedings. Reese had encouraged negotiations over the past couple of months, but ruled Friday it was time for the negotiations to end and the city to pay.
— New Orleans Advocate (@theadvocateno) September 3, 2015
The parties knew going into Friday’s court session that officials could face contempt charges if they could not pay firefighters $75 million, but the New Orleans City Council, which would have had to approve the expenditure, did not come to an agreement Thursday night during an executive session, the Times-Picayune reported. Before Friday’s hearing, a firefighters union attorney dismissed the $75 million settlement, saying it would shortchange firefighters. The union originally wanted the city to pay $236 million.
An earlier proposal was much smaller, however, and included only $42 million for the firefighters, the Times-Picayune reported. Reese made the order for the city to pay $75 million because the city did not comply with a raise schedule that was required by the state. The city refused to pay the raises, which firefighters said artificially lowered their pensions.