Raleigh Firefighters To Put Up Billboards Over Low Pay

RALEIGH, NC – Raleigh firefighters upset over low pay and the lack of pay raises plan on taking their protest to billboards and city bus advertisements.

Raleigh Firefighters United, a group of more than 400 city firefighters, is raising money to put up at least four billboards around downtown and the beltline.

The billboards expected to be up in mid-September.

The group has not yet decided what message will be on the billboard, but they say one possible option is “First in Respond, Last in Pay.” The group also plans on putting advertisements on city buses and having mobile billboards drive around downtown to raise awareness about the low pay.

“We just have to continue to make people aware, make the public aware and continue to let the council and mayor know that we’re not going to go away,” said Raleigh Firefighter Chris Ferrell.

For months, Raleigh police and firefighters have been pushing for at least 7-percent raises. They say they haven’t been given a raise in several years and many first responders are leaving to go to other agencies that pay more or they’re leaving the field all together.

“Each month that goes by, the pace picks up of people leaving because they just cannot afford to support their families,” said Ferrell.

In June, Raleigh City Council unanimous approved an $858 million budget, which includes pay raises for city employees of 3 to 3.5 percent. Council did not vote to approve the first responders’ pay raise request.

Councilors say they’re committed to public safety and understand there is a problem with pay but say they’re waiting for the completion of a city-wide pay study before making any decisions. The study would be a comprehensive study on salaries across city government.

“It’s a very complex issue, it’s not something you handle lightly,” said Councilor Mary Ann Baldwin following a June city council meeting. “You really do have to have a study and you have to do it fairly.”

The pay study is currently wrapping up its second phase, which included 21 employee meetings. Six of the meetings were specifically targeted for participation from police officers and firefighters.

“This is still a huge problem and we’ve got to make sure this pay study is also implemented fairly,” said Ferrell.

The pay study is expected to be completed by early 2017.

The city declined to comment on the group’s efforts to put up billboards.

Raleigh Firefighters United has started a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of the billboards.

From WNCN.com

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