GREENSBORO, N.C. — A controversial bill proposing the establishment of civil service review boards for city workers in Greensboro and Winston-Salem has just passed in the state House.

House Bill 470 has already passed in the state House and could change the way disciplinary matters are handled for city workers in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. The bill proposes the establishment of civil service review boards, providing an extra layer of protection for workers who disagree with disciplinary actions taken by their managers.

Some see this as a positive step forward, while others argue that it could take away power from those who are best equipped to make difficult decisions.

Bryce Carter, Cities UE150 Workers Union

Bryce Carter, a Greensboro city worker and vice president of the Cities UE150 Workers Union, is excited about the potential for the bill to give workers an extra layer of protection.

“This will be sort of a checks and balances on our managers and the city,” he said.

Under the new system, workers can still be punished by their managers, but they will have the right to appeal if they disagree. The civil service review board will have the final say.

However, those who oppose the bill say it takes power away from those best informed to make the hard decisions.

Marikay Abuzuaiter, Greensboro City Council member

Marikay Abuzuaiter, a Greensboro City Council member, feels the bill could complicate a process where sometimes disciplinary action needs to be taken quickly.

“If an officer had a use of excessive force and the police chief decides to fire them and if that person felt so moved they could go to the civil service board and ask for an appeal and then immediately be put back in their position they would still get their pay until the civil service board met,” she said.

State Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford)

District 59 NC House Representative Jon Hardister believes that the bill will attract more city workers to the Triad. “They are going to look at pay but look at benefits too and something like due process, I mean that’s something I think will really help with recruitment,” he said.

What’s next?

The bill has yet to be voted on by the Senate. If approved, the five-person board will be balanced in its representation, with two members appointed by city workers, one by the city council, one by the city’s police and fire chief, and the fifth who’ll serve as chairman of the board will be chosen by the other four.

Five cities across the state already have established civil service review boards, including the state’s two largest cities, Raleigh and Charlotte.It remains to be seen whether this bill will become law and how it will affect Greensboro and Winston-Salem city workers in the future. We will keep you updated here as the story progresses.