Firefighters rally in Raleigh for higher pay

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Protesters gathered in downtown Raleigh saying firefighters are not paid enough (WTVD)

A large group of firefighters and activists rallied in Raleigh Tuesday to protest a decision not to increase pay to police and firefighters.

The protesters carried signs which read: Would you do this job 56 hours a week for $11.22 per hour?

Firefighters say some are so poorly paid they have to get public assistance.

Read more: Raleigh police, firefighters say they aren't paid enough.

Emergency workers wanted a 15 percent increase in pay over two years, but city leaders decided to wait until a citywide employee pay study is complete before taking action.

Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane was in favor of waiting until the study is completed next spring.

As firefighters protest a vote this week by the city council to stick with recommended raises of 3.5 percent for public safety employees, there has been some movement by council members who oppose big raises this year.

Councilors met for a work session in city hall Tuesday afternoon. Those in favor for bigger raises for emergency workers were just one vote shy of getting pay increases in the budget. Some of the councilmembers who voted against raises this year said they will support them next year.

Firefighters and police see the opportunity for better pay on the horizon.

"Because the public outcry and the media attention, it's just bringing this problem to light," said Chris Ferrell, a Raleigh firefighter. "I think a lot of citizens just weren't aware of the situation that we are in and have been in for ten years."

One point made by council members in favor of a pay raise is that after paying for training, some employees then leave for jobs in neighboring cities. Starting salaries for police officers in Raleigh are $7,000 less than in Knightdale.

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