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City's Promises Fail To Satisfy Some Sanitation Workers

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A week after staging two work stoppages over concerns about schedules and overtime pay, city sanitation workers remain disgruntled.

Workers maintain that they are forced to work longer than their 10-hour shifts, aren't paid overtime for the extra work and usually are denied the opportunity to take compensatory time off in lieu of overtime.

City Manager Russell Allen met behind closed doors for about two hours Friday morning with about 100 sanitation workers. Workers had set a Friday deadline for the city to resolve their concerns.

To encourage them to get out on their collection routes last week, Allen promised the workers that he would address their complaints.

The City Council voted Tuesday to add 12 positions to the sanitation crews to help with the workload. City officials also are looking into the records-keeping practices and the overall management of the Solid Waste Services Department, and Allen promised all workers would receive overtime pay until the scheduling issues were resolved.

Some workers said Friday that they appreciated the progress being made.

"All the things (Allen) said pleased me," sanitation worker Lonnie Lucas said. "It worked out pretty good. What he says and what he's doing, it's working out pretty good."

But not everyone is pleased with Allen's efforts, saying they wanted new policies to be put in writing. Some workers met with representatives of a union Friday evening. Last week, they asked for union help in resolving their concerns.

"He said he was going to have something in writing to let us know justice has been done," sanitation worker Daron Green said. "In two weeks, I'll be putting in my notice, stating that I'm quitting because justice hasn't prevailed down here. I don't need to be treated like dirt."

"Everything is still the same. Nothing has changed," sanitation worker Elijah Shaw said.

Allen said such changes take time, and he plans to meet with workers again in a few weeks.

"I have put into writing all the actions the city has taken. I'll continue to put in writing those things that affect them -- policy changes or others as those are implemented," he said. "I can't see how anybody would say that the report I made and the action council took wasn't progress, but that's theirs to judge."

Workers plan to picket city hall next Tuesday. Until then, they said they'll appear on radio shows, canvass neighborhoods, and solicit the public's support. But at this time, they have no plans for another work stoppage.


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