The City of Greensboro joined Winston-Salem Tuesday in voting to oppose House Bill 470. The legislation, which recently passed the North Carolina House, would change the way city employee grievances are handled in both Triad cities.
The bill would create Civil Service Boards charged with handling all city employee disciplinary appeals or grievances. Currently, that normally falls to the city manager.
“I don't need Raleigh to come down here and tell us how we ought to be doing business," said Greensboro Councilmember Sharon Hightower. "They control some things. But they shouldn't be controlling this.”
Hightower is among several council members to argue that the legislation undermines a city’s authority. That view is shared by the nonprofit Greater Winston-Salem, Inc., which issued a statement saying the bill lacks clarity and is redundant.
If the proposal passes in its current form, city employees would elect two of the five members of the board, city council would pick another, and the fire and police chiefs would jointly select a fourth member. The final member would be chosen by the rest of the panel.
The six citizens who spoke on the subject at the Greensboro City Council meeting Tuesday were all in favor of the idea, saying that Civil Service Boards increase transparency and have been successful in several North Carolina cities.
Bryce Carter with the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union says his group has raised questions about the grievance process for years. He says they are concerned because they feel disciplinary measures vary widely from employee to employee.
“The inconsistency. And that's the problem. So the Civil Service Board, that's why we push them forward," said Carter. "We want it to be due process and fair.”
City Councils in both Greensboro and Winston-Salem passed resolutions opposing the proposal.
The bill passed the North Carolina House late last month and now moves on to the Senate.