DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- After weeks of heated debate that included Durham sanitation workers walking off the job earlier this month, the conversation over Durham city workers pay hit a boiling point Thursday.
Dozens of Durham police officers, firefighters, and sanitation workers showed up at Thursday's City Council work session to demand not only bonuses but higher wages.
"How can any of you claim to worship God, and treat your people like the garbage they're picking up?" asked Rafiq Zaidi, a local minister.
Public comment alternated between somber reflection on the state of pay in Durham to anger directed at City Council members. At one point, concerned citizens even sang a gospel song.
In addition to dozens of sanitation workers, concerned Durham police officers spoke out too. One DPD recruiter spoke out and said he can't do his job with salaries where they are.
"I want the best police officers to serve you," said Officer Nick Parkstone. "I can't do that with 43 and a half thousand dollars ($43,500) to sell when Greensboro offers $60K when Mebane offers in the $50s. It's not fair."
Cost-of-living concerns were a constant topic throughout the afternoon.
"You want the community to have community-based policing, which includes having officers living within the community and being a part of that community that they work and police in. However, these prices are something that are just not affordable," said Natalia Fernandez, also with DPD.
The hours-long work session continued into the evening as Durham city workers braced for what's next.
"Just because we're garbage collectors, us men and women, don't make us any less than anybody else in this room," said sanitation worker Herman Moore.