Raleigh, April 19, 2023: State employees challenge Legislators on safe staffing and retention plans amidst high turnover

UE150 NC Public Service Workers Union

WHO: North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: Wednesday, April 19 at 12:30pm

WHERE: Across from State Legislative Building, 16 W. Jones Street, Raleigh

Press contact: Dante Strobino, UE International Representative, 919-539-2051

State and local government workers will converge on the State Legislature on Wednesday on behalf of over 5,400 members of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150 that work in the University of North Carolina System, the state Department of Health and Human Services, and other state and local government agencies. They have requested meetings with Legislatorsto discuss the deep understaffing in state facilities and how to work together to pass a budget for Fiscal Year 2024 that supports quality jobs and quality services.

Workers will be demanding that the state invest its huge revenue surplus (projected to be around $3.25 billion) into significant pay raises for state workers this year to help retain staff.

UE150 NC Public Service Workers Union 

State employees are working incredibly understaffed, with some units in the Department of Health and Human Services already closing down completely, while others are operating with over 50% vacancies rates. Overall, there are over 3,700 (out of 11,000) positions vacant in DHHS State Operated Healthcare Facilities. Overall state government workers are continuing to come to work every day and provide essential services to our residents, even though overall there is a 23% vacancy rate. Housekeepers and others in the UNC System also face similar vacancies rates and are being stretched beyond their capacity.

“Many state employees feel like the Legislature is punishing our loyalty,” stated Sekia Royall, President of UE150, and Food Service Assistant at O’Berry Center in DHHS. Royall added that “contract staff hired to fill vacancies are being paid two times more than state employees. Front line healthcare positions are vacant in huge rates at 30-50%. Facilities are closing entire units, we are caring for hundreds less patients than our capacity.   We need urgent significant pay increases and fairness changes in management.”

“Despite the growing need for inpatient psychiatric care, a quarter of the psychiatric beds remain empty secondary to front line staff vacancies,” stated Dr. Rakesh Patel, President of the Butner chapter of UE150 at Central Regional Hospital in DHHS. Patel continued, “the state is unable to hire nurses, because of their refusal to offer competitive wages. Everyday, committed state workers leave. They are no longer willing to tolerate unsafe working conditions and hospital management’s lack of accountability.” 

UE150 NC Public Service Workers Union

Recently over 2,400 housekeepers, campus workers and students across the UNC System signed a petition calling on the State to raise the minimum wage for housekeepers and other state employees to $20 per hour, while also ending the practice of paying parking fees while at work.

UE150 demands that the State Legislature pass a budget that includes:

  • Raise minimum wage for state employees to $20 per hour, 
  • 20% raise for other state employees over two years, 
  • 7-year Step Pay Plan
  • A Safe Staffing Task Force,
  • Repeal the ban on public sector collective bargaining,
  • Making the wealthy and corporations pay fair share of taxes,
  • No paying to park or student fees for university workers, 
  • $11,000 per semester minimum stipend for UNC System graduate workers, 
  • Pass a Civil Service Board for city workers, and
  • Meet-and-confer with UE150 at state facilities and universities. 

Community and allies are invited to join workers at the press conference at 12:30pm at 16 W. Jones Street. 

UE150 NC Public Service Workers Union


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