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Sanitation Workers Meet With Mayor Over Labor Dispute

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Sanitation workers met privately with Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker Tuesday, but little progress was made in addressing their grievances.

The city's Solid Waste Services workers claim they are overworked and underpaid and have demanded that the city make changes.

As a result of their complaints, garbage collection was delayed for two days last week. Workers have also rallied in an effort to move along negotiations, even after meeting multiple times with Raleigh's city manager, Russell Allen.

After more than an hour, both sides emerged from the mayor's office at City Hall agreeing that the meeting was a positive move in the nearly two-week demonstration.

"We (had) a success by speaking with the mayor in this process," said John Cutler, one of the city's 80 sanitation workers pushing for change.

Both Meeker and the workers agreed that temporary workers working long-term should be made permanent city employees and given full-time benefits, but little else came from the meeting.

"We need to have really good management practices, ones that honor and respect all our employees, ones that also lead to efficient work," Meeker said after the meeting.

City workers have complained that they are forced to work shifts longer than 10 hours without being paid for overtime. They have said they are often given compensatory time off, but then not allowed to use it. Workers have also claimed they are being overworked and threatened with suspension if they do not work overtime.

Those two issues were not resolved.

Both sides will meet again next Thursday. Meeker said he would take the week to look at what other cities in North Carolina are doing in regard to overtime.

"The citizens expect something to be done about it, and I want something to be done about it," Meeker said. "This is not the type of situation that I want in the city that I'm mayor of."