Raleigh to end premium pay for front line workers amid pandemic

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– Front line workers’ responses are mixed as Raleigh will end the premium pay given to some city employees during COVID-19.

The “premium pay” will end July 17 as the city reopens some buildings, expands services and other employees return to work, according to the city’s HR Director Fagan Stackhouse.

“The premium pay was intended to be temporary until the City could return to more normal operations,” said Stackhouse in a statement.

A city spokesperson says from late March to June 24 the premium pay cost the city $1.6 million, which came from the general fund.  Budget limitations did play a role in discontinuing the premium pay, a spokesperson said.

“We’re still on the front lines,” said Raleigh Solid Waste Services employee Charlen Parker.  “How could you take the pay?”

Parker, president of the Raleigh City Workers Union chapter of UE Local 150, says workers are upset to lose the extra pay.

“You’ve had a tremendous increase in garbage, recycling and yard waste,” he said.  “You’ve increase our route, you’ve increased our workload and and it’s also heavier.”

Parker’s co-worker died from COVID19 in March, and Parker still worries about his own safety on the job.

“The coronavirus is not contained, not even in the least.  The only thing you’re doing increasing the likelihood of your workers, anybody catching COVID-19,” Parker said.

Rick Armstrong, with the Raleigh Police Protective Association, says COVID-19 has greatly impacted how officers do their jobs.

“It really changes the whole dynamic of the job when you have to arrest someone and they aren’t wearing a mask or they are not taking precautions,” Armstrong said.

He calls policing during the pandemic “unprecedented,” but says officers understand the city’s decision to end the premium pay.

“Certainly we all hoped it would have lasted longer, particularly because it is an ongoing pandemic,” Armstrong said.  “We do understand where they are coming from, and grateful members were able to benefit from the hazardous pay while it lasts.”

A city spokesperson says not all city employees received premium pay.  A determination was made based on the employee’s job assignment, and then some received it full-time and other intermittently. 

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