NC city approves $15 minimum wage for all employees – except firefighters

North Carolina news

STATESVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Statesville City Council approved this week a $15 per hour minimum wage for all city employees. However, some Statesville firefighters have been voicing their displeasure this week because they are not included in the wage increase.

Statesville City Manager Ron Smith told FOX 46 Thursday that firefighters work different hours, 24 on and 48 off, so their pay structure is different. He said the wage increase approved this week by city council focused on city employees who work eight hour days.

“The sanitation department I really feel they are so underpaid because they have the dirtiest, nastiest job,” said one councilmember Monday, before city council approved the minimum wage motion by a vote of seven to one.

That comment in particular rubbed some Statesville firefighters the wrong way since they are not included within the city employee minimum wage increase.

“Work longer hours, expose your body to cancer and infectious disease, commit one-third of your life to the citizens of Statesville, and @cityofsvl will exclude you from the first raise in three years. Working longer hours should not be punishment,” the Statesville Professional Firefighters Association tweeted Thursday morning.

Smith wasn’t available for an interview Thursday but emailed FOX 46 this explanation:

We use an adjusted hourly rate for fire because they work a 24-hour-on, 48-hour-off schedule, so it does not equate exactly to what a “normal” employee works and really isn’t apples to apples when it comes to this discussion. The Council looked at the lowest paid employees overall, who happen to work 8-5 and made a one-time adjustment based on that information.”

Statesville City Manager Ron Smith

Smith also told FOX 46 a $15 per hour starting pay for firefighters would increase the starting salary by $10,000, which the city can’t afford right now.

The President of the Statesville Professional Firefighters Association, Justin Elam, says he understands the city is in a bind. He would like the city to slowly start increasing all firefighter pay so they can be more closely aligned with cities of similar size.

Smith said firefighter pay may be discussed in October when the city council is presented with the city revenue report.

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