Raleigh, NC – On October 17, the Raleigh City Workers Union, chapter of UE Local 150 hosted an informational picket at city Hall. The City Council was scheduled to meet at 1:00 pm that day, during work hours when employees cannot attend. Alongside workers, many community supporters from the Triangle People’s Assembly, Black Workers for Justice, Raleigh Police Accountability Taskforce and others attended the picket.
Raleigh city workers are upset at the new pay ranges implemented by the City of Raleigh on September 30, 2017 and unfair treatment by management. City workers had been promised a fair new system of wage increases, but many were short- changed and not properly paid for their years of service. City workers are grossly underpaid, many can’t even afford to live within the city limits due to increasing housing costs.
“I’ve had to get a part-time job to supplement income because it is not enough based off my city of Raleigh wage,” sanitation worker UE150 member Gerrand Ushery said.
“A lot of people in the union are talking about how public works and sanitation get ignored,” said UE150 union member Michael Moore, who drives waste-collection trucks for the city. “Their raises are pushed under the rug. Police and fire, they stuck together, they stuck with their union, and they made themselves heard.”
Workers say that police and fire did get compensated more, as originally promised, unlike everyone else that works for the city.
Workers in Solid Waste Services were given letters describing their new pay rates. Twenty-nine of those employees, all senior employees, were later given another letter offering them as much as $3,000 less pay, and not recognizing their total years of service. Additionally, many other workers in the City are still not even getting paid the minimum of their new wage classification.
“We are frustrated with the City of Raleigh for not paying us what we deserve,” stated UE150 union member Alphonzo Hedgepeth, Solid Waste Service Specialist. “Raleigh is the capitol city, we expect it to lead, not fall behind.” Hedgepeth showed UE150 a copy of the two letters received from the City. The second letter, dated August 30, 2017 stated “the information in your letter was not correct. That data did not accurately reflect the time you have served in your current position”, and offered him nearly $3,000 less than originally promised.
As part of the Municipal Workers Bill of Rights campaign, the union has been waging a campaign to expose the unfair merit-only system of pay, that often only rewards wage increases to those employees that kiss up to the boss. Police and fire often get paid both annual step raise, in addition to merit pay increases.
Recently workers were told that they could not earn an “outstanding” on their evaluations, despite how much overtime they work and how hard they perform. In Raleigh, the merit-only system has meant that many workers are decades behind in pay. This new wage scale, similar to the one that the union fought for 3 years to win in Charlotte, was supposed to help workers catch up.
Workers are also challenging the city’s new proposed disciplinary policy that would take away earned vacation days when on suspension, rather than have workers take unpaid days off work.
April 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. standing with city workers in Memphis, Tennessee and was assassinated. City workers are still struggling for fairness and a voice on the job.