On Tuesday, October 17, the Raleigh City Workers Union chapter of UE Local 150 held an informational picket at City Hall. The City Council was scheduled to meet at 1:00pm that day, during work hours when employees can not attend. The workers were joined by many community supporters from the Triangle People’s Assembly, Black Workers for Justice, the Raleigh Police Accountability Taskforce and others.
Raleigh city workers are upset at the new pay ranges implemented by the City of Raleigh on September 30, 2017, and also 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, and 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 my income because it is not enough based off my city of Raleigh wage," sanitation worker and 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 in Solid Waste Services were given letters describing their new pay rates. 29 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 capital 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 an 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 three years to win in Charlotte, was supposed to help workers catch up.
Workers are also challenging the city’s proposed new disciplinary policy that would take away earned vacation days when on suspension, rather than have workers take unpaid days off work.
This coming April 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood with city workers in Memphis, Tennessee and was assassinated. City workers in the South are still struggling for fairness and a voice on the job.