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Raleigh Sanitation Workers Say Settlement Insufficient, Threaten Lawsuit

Workers say that a recent city payment for overtime work underestimated what was due, and they may go to court.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.



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