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Former workers seek back pay from AIDS nonprofit

Posted November 10, 2015

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— Several former employees of Alliance of AIDS Services Carolina say the Raleigh nonprofit owes them thousands of dollars in back pay, and they say the organization should pay its debts before expanding.

The Alliance ran into financial problems a year ago and cut back from 25 employees to six, slashing its annual budget from $1.2 million to about $500,000. Hector Salgado, who took over as executive director about two months ago, said the organization is trying to regain its footing and plans to repay former workers by the end of the year.

"We owe them that, and we are going to pay it, and its our intention to pay it, and we're not contesting it," Salgado said Tuesday.

About 10 workers are owed a total of about $6,000 for accrued vacation time, he said, noting the Alliance has already paid all of the workers' back wages and about half of the vacation time.

One of the former workers, Randy Light, said the back pay is about a year overdue, and he is tired of waiting for it.

"We're not on the high end of any pay scale, and I don't think it's been taken into consideration that myself or these other folks (who were laid off) may have been put into a financial hardship," Light said.

When Light heard the Alliance had some successful fundraising events and was again expanding – Salgado said he hopes to get the staff back up to 10 by the end of the year – he began complaining in letters and emails to board members and on social media that he and others should be paid before any new hires were made.

"I guess I'm just unclear where that funding is coming from when the funding is not yet available to finish paying out employees from a year ago," he said. "It's just a little disheartening when you volunteer and work for an agency for 12 years and you're there for part of the cause, and then you're kind of treated a little poorly."

An attorney for the Alliance sent Light a letter two weeks ago demanding that he stop making negative posts about the organization that he knew to be false.

Light said he has nothing but respect for the Alliance. He just wants the $1,465 he is owed.

"The services that they provide are needed, are necessary," he said. "I hope they continue to grow and thrive and continue to provide these services, but I just think they should have already taken care of the folks that were with them a year ago when they were going through a huge financial crisis."

The Alliance has put financial safeguards in place to ensure it doesn't run into difficulty again, Salgado said, and the nonprofit now outsources some of its work.

"The troubled history of the agency is that they've put paying individuals ahead of providing services to clients, and that's not something I'm willing to do. That's not something that this board is willing to do," he said. "We're smaller, but we're still here, and we're coming back, and we're rebuilding."

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