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Greensboro firefighters want minimum $15 per hour wage

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Some firefighters feel like they are being short-changed by the City of Greensboro.

The city is proposing a $15 per hour minimum pay raise for full-time benefited city employees. The proposal doesn’t include the fire department.

“I believe that our hours are just as valuable as any other city workers,” said Vinnie Messina, the secretary of the Professional Firefighters of Greensboro.

More than a two dozen firefighters showed up at the Greensboro City Council meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns.

Dave Coker, the president of the Professional Firefighters of Greensboro, spoke at the meeting.

“Firefighters work an additional 680 hours,” Coker said. “We are not saying we are worth more than anyone. We are saying we work more hours.”

Jamiah Waterman, the interim director for Human Resources at the City of Greensboro, says firefighters' compensation is complicated.

He says firefighters technically get a salary, have higher minimum pay than neighboring cities like High Point and Winston-Salem and received a 7.5 percent pay raise last year.

Waterman also said that even if the minimum pay was bumped up, it would only impact new employees. Firefighters also qualify for overtime, although its calculated differently than normal employees.

Waterman provided a chart to better demonstrate what his team is seeing.

“It's the council's decision to make but we certainly think that we value the work that they do and it shows in the compensation that we pay them,” Waterman said.

Messina says he feels like firefighters are being punished for doing more.

“If the city says a full-time benefited employee should make $15 an hour, firefighter should not make less than $15 an hour because we work more hours,” Messina said. “Essentially, we are being penalized because we work more than a 40-hour work week.”

Councilwoman Michelle Kennedy told us city council hasn’t discussed the issue yet.

The city budget will be voted on June 19.