Raleigh firefighters and police angry over new city policy

RALEIGH (WNCN) — A slap in the face is how many Raleigh firefighters and police view new changes to a city policy. It involves all city employees and centers on vacation time, sick leave, holiday pay and promotions.

The changes were made as part of the consent agenda that passed at the last City Council meeting.

“If I have to work on a Saturday, I already have to take two days off to have that weekend off. Now its going to take more time to accrue that. It’s going to cost me about 9 vacation days a year,” Nick Rhodes, a Raleigh firefighter said.

Vacation accrual changed under this new policy. As a 15 year veteran of the Raleigh Fire Department, Nick Rhodes used to earn 1.75 days off per month. Under the new policy, seniority doesn’t get you more time. Every firefighter would get one day per month.

“We want answers. We want to know how this got put into a consent agenda, how it was passed,” Rhodes said.

Councilman David Cox voted for it.

“It looked to me like it was a routine matter to help us implement the new pay structures that went into effect in July,” Cox said.

Cox said he and other council members didn’t realize what they’d voted for. The mayor and city manager weren’t available for comment.

In a statement the city wrote, “The City of Raleigh has undergone a significant Compensation System overhaul over the past two years. The new system resulted in significant pay raises for the majority of the City staff, including Police and Fire. The policies that were unanimously adopted at the last council meeting were intended to address some inconsistencies we have across our organization. Staff is currently working on providing potential amendments to the policies that will be presented to the City Council to help clarify any misinformation.”

According to attachments in the agenda, the city has been reviewing the issue for two years. The last policy change took place in 1984.

A city spokesman said any council member could have pulled an item in the consent agenda.

The Raleigh Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association said they were disappointed in the change as well.

Robert Harris, President of the Raleigh Chapter of PBA, released the following statement:

We take issue with any policies that reduce benefits for police officers. The city has been working on this for two years and had ample time to get this right. We are disappointed that something as important as employee benefits was placed on the consent agenda with no discussion and passed unanimously by our city council without anyone knowing. We are encouraged, however, that we have council members that are working to correct this issue.

Police and firefighters are now hoping changes will made when the subject is raised at Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Civil Service Tomorrow and at the next meeting of the city council.

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