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Raleigh Sanitation Workers Say Settlement Insufficient, Threaten Lawsuit

Posted March 14, 2007
Updated March 15, 2007

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— Lawyers associated with Raleigh sanitation workers threatened Tuesday to file a lawsuit against the city, asking for back pay the workers say they are due.

There are about 200 workers in all. They have been trying since last year to get better working conditions and pay since last year.

"At this late date, we have no other alternative other than to pursue legal action,” said Angaza Laughinghouse, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 150 state president.

State law forbids the workers’ bargaining for a contract, but the UE has been advising them, A group of sanitation workers and union representatives meant business during a news conference in Raleigh.

"A day’s work for a day’s pay," said Steve Edelstein, an attorney for the union.

Sanitation workers say the city owes them money because they worked overtime and got time off instead of money. City officials say it happened because there wasn't enough money in the budget to cover the overtime.

City Manager Russell Allen said Tuesday, however, that Raleigh made it up to workers last week by paying them what was owed.

Workers were owed an average of about 20 hours of overtime, totaling about $45,000, Allen said. The checks were handed out to approximately 200 sanitation workers Friday, he said.

"We have 80 percent of our employees that think what we've done is fair," said Allen.

While some sanitation workers say the city's record-keeping was off, Allen disagrees.

"We do have documentation of our records and time-keeping. We do have time-keeping for employees. We always have for all employees, and we do in Solid Waste Services as well," he said.

The group threatening the lawsuit said sanitation workers are owed more hours, though they don't have the documentation to prove it.

“We are gathering as best we can from people's memories the exact amount, but it will be thousands of dollars to each individual," Edelstein said.

24 Comments

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  • romeopm Mar 14, 2007

    this is about getting patd everyone. if they work overtime then they need to get paid for it and thats the bottom line.im sure if we all work overtime we want to get paid for it and plus some of these guys depend on this job and they been at this job long enough to know that something has changed for the bad. bottom line... if you work overtime then you have to get paid for it.

  • whitfield244 Mar 14, 2007

    Fire them all - they want their cake and eat it too. If you can't prove the OT and you have already received time off in lieu of pay, then what are they whining about? I'd rather have the time off and not give Uncle Sam any more than I have to. I am from a union state (MI) and I have seen what they can do. If they become unionized not only will they get higher wages, but they can have the luxury of sitting on their butt and not doing a darn thing and not get fired. Their union rep will keep them in their job. We've all seen what the Union has done to the auto industry. Unions had their place in history. Why do you think all these companies are moving jobs out of the country?

  • Watcher Of Things Mar 14, 2007

    How many of these workers actually took the time off?

    ... and if it is SO BAD - why did they stay?

  • independent_thinker Mar 14, 2007

    Illegal to unionize, obvious anti-union comments on this forum, yet the City Manager says "...80 percent of our employees that think what we've done is fair..."

    In a non-Union environment, you don't ever care what the group thinks, it's irrelevant since the point is to avoid collective bargaining. If one person thinks it's unfair, you deal with it. It may be time for some continuing education.

    These folks will have their day in court and the matter will sort itself out.

    I've had pay disputes with [private sector] employers and I make sure I get it resolved. Anyone who doesn't is a doormat.

    If it were a Sports Star, Movie Star, or CEO asking for more money, you'd all be mesmerized.

  • mugofstout Mar 14, 2007

    If you think you have an overload of work, you need to learn how to manage your time. This is not a job in which the work load changes weekly. You know how much you have to do, plan your day and get it done. And if you have people who cannot keep up with the load, fire and hire. Quit the whining, and stop begging in the name of "WE NNEED TO FEED OUR FAMILES". What a crock, you knew how much the job paid when you took it. Go private Raleigh, do not kneel to the union lackeys.

  • methinks Mar 14, 2007

    If these guys got extra time off with pay, then why are they owed any money? Seems to me they already received it. If you received 12 hours extra comp time for 8 hours of unpaid overtime work then you received your money. (Appears that is what happened by previous stories). Do these guys not realize how much money was saved in their paychecks from taxes? The tax on 12 hours of comp time is A LOT less than the tax on 8 hours of overtime. Give it up people, as a potential jury member, you won't win with me.

  • Like that Mar 14, 2007

    The issue with comp time is that there is already a shortage of workers and an overload of work. The comp time that is earned is never spent due to the staff shortage and at the end of the year the time is lost. Any employee that works beyond their expected duty should be paid for it.

  • superman Mar 14, 2007

    I disagree with the ability of the Raleigh leaders. They dont know which end is up. They are always playing catchup. I certainly want all the city emplyees to be treated justly and fairly and equally-- however-- if you want pay-- you certainly have to have it documented. You cant just say-- I dont know how much you owe me but u owe me more. It certainly wouldnt work for me.

  • Screen name Mar 14, 2007

    It doesn't sound like they have a very good case. I agree with buck(numbers) that once they get a win it's never enough. Also the UE needs to back off. Also, I too will accept $10,000 because I worked for the city for three months w/o pay.

  • mchlpickle Mar 14, 2007

    Sounds like the UE trying to stir up more trouble. Why don't they just leave everybody alone and let the sanitation workers get back to doing their jobs that they were hired to do.Hasn't the UE heard of the law stopping the employees from unionizing, "Or this is just another way of getting in the media".

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