Durham union pushing for non-teaching school workers to get pay raises

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Durham educators union is fighting to get better pay for employees who aren’t teachers within Durham Public Schools.

The union message is simply that they are frontline workers and deserve money.

“We’re the ones who are keeping the buildings clean. We are the ones picking your children up,” said Deborrah Bailey.

Bailey is a custodian with Durham Public Schools and a member of the Durham Association of Educators.  She said they have been working on this issue for awhile.

“True, the schools might not be open or the kids aren’t back but we are out working. We just want to be compensated,” she explained.

Durham Association of Educators is asking the Durham County Board of Commissioners to allot more money to the school district in order to bump up pay for classified staff to at least $15 per hour.

“What if we went on strike and say ‘OK, well, we are not going to work?’ The schools are going to be shut down,” Bailey said.

According to Durham County, because of “many fiscal uncertainties due to the impact of COVID-19, unfortunately most budget requests were not funded.”

The county also told CBS 17 that DPS received a more than $5 million increase in their budget, which included the first phase of implementing the $15 per hour budget increase for classified workers.

“How can you not have money to raise to give us $15 an hour but then you’re going to turn around and give hazard pay to a group of employees that you’ve already raised to $15 an hour,” Bailey said.

The county said it plans to address the second phase of implementing $15 per hour in January. 

However, the union is also pushing for commissioners to vote at its next meeting, on Monday, on the pay raise.

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