Firefighters pleased after Raleigh Civil Service Commission recommends reversal of pay policy changes

The Raleigh Civil Service Commission


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Raleigh Civil Service Commission has recommended the city go back to its original holiday pay policy for all city employees at an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon.

That recommendation will now head to the City Council.

“In our mission statement and strategic plan it talks about transparency, and to me that’s not transparent if we’re talking about this again,” said Douglas Brugger, employee representative on the Civil Services Committee.

Firefighters had been shocked to learn these new policies dramatically cut down their vacation time, but Thursday city human resources officials they made a mistake.

“It was never our intent to change vacation leave earnings for fire employees that was an oversight on our part,” said Interim HR Director, Lisa Creech.

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

The changes involved all city employees and center on vacation time, sick leave, holiday pay and promotions.

One of the biggest concerns among firefighters is a change to their vacation accrual policy, which had language that suggested firefighters would only earn one vacation day a month no matter how many years they worked for the city.

City human resources said that was an oversight on their part and they never intended to change vacation for firefighters.

The other big issue – holiday pay.

The new policy reduced holiday pay from 16 to 8 hours.

The Civil Service Commission is recommending city employees be paid for the amount of hours they physically work on the holiday.

“I don’t want to play the blame game. We just want to make sure this is right. We’ve waited a long time for this raise and this pat procedure to be done correctly you can’t treat an 8-hour employee like someone who works 12 hours like police or 24 hours in the fire dept,” said Raleigh Fire Lt. Chris Farrell.

Rick Armstrong, another employee representative, blamed human resources.

“I think it’s a big problem,” said Armstrong. “I’ve said it from the beginning this process was not transparent. They didn’t share it with the employees from the beginning.”

The city council will meet Tuesday to vote on the amendments to these policies.

The changes comes just months after many city employees, such as police and firefighters, received a raise.

Keech says the city’s been working on an overhaul of the pay system for two years. We asked her if she believes human resources gave employees enough notices about these changes.

“That’s hard for me to speak to because I haven’t been here through the whole process, but I do believe that we have had communication in our organization,” said Keech. “I believe that there are always opportunities to communicate more.”

Mayor Nancy McFarlane sent us the following statement about the benefit changes. It says in full:

It is essential that our first responders pay and benefits are kept competitive with other communities here in Wake County and nationally. When I learned of this issue on Friday, I immediately contacted the City Manager and asked he provide clarification and a resolution to their concerns. We are all are taking the right steps to address this. I’ve reached out to police and firefighter advocates and I hope to meet with them directly to discuss their concerns before the 19th. These are complex issues, but we will get it right.

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