September 2023 City Employee Compensation and Solid Waste Collections Update

The City of Durham’s top priority during the solid waste collectors’ protest, which started on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, was to ensure that solid waste collections, specifically garbage, continued for the more than 88,000 households in our city. 

As solid waste collectors and drivers have returned to their jobs, solid waste collections have returned closer to normal operations. You can stay up to date with the current status on our Solid Waste webpage.

Throughout the protest and discussions, we have received questions about compensation for all job classifications, and how we plan to move forward to ensure all employees are compensated for the valuable services and programs they provide to our community.

City Manager Wanda Page shared a proposal in a September 15 video with initial recommendations for one-time bonuses for City employees.

September 29 Update on FY 23-24 Proposed One-Time Employee Bonuses

At the September 21 City Council work session, City Manager Wanda Page shared her proposal for one-time employee bonuses, using carryover funds totaling $6.5 million from last fiscal year for City Council’s consideration.

Following discussion, Council members directed the City Administration to provide additional options that will be presented at the Thursday, October 5, work session.  

These options, using guidelines provided by Council during the work session, show various levels of bonuses for employees using this area’s median income levels as a guide, and not exceeding $6.5 million, the amount previously proposed for the bonuses. The options can be found in Agenda Item No. 6 on the City’s website.

Full and part-time employees hired by June 30, 2023, and actively employed when the bonuses are paid, are eligible for the one-time bonus which would be paid soon following Council approval.

A full presentation will be made during the October 5 work session, at which time, Council members will consider the options and provide instructions to the City Administration on how to move forward.

To watch Thursday’s work session, which begins at 1 p.m., visit the City’s YouTube channel.

September 21 City Employee One-Time Bonus Update

During the Thursday, September 21, Work Session, the Durham City Council requested for City Manager Wanda Page to develop three new options for distributing $6.5 million in one-time bonus money to roughly 2,655 City employees.

The City Manager will bring the three options to the City Council for their consideration at their Thursday, October 5, Work Session.

To watch October 5 Work Session, which begins at 1 p.m., visit the City’s YouTube Channel.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the minimum livable wage in Durham?
  • The City of Durham’s minimum livable wage is $18.46 per hour, which is $38,396 annually for a 40-hour work week. To view the minimum livable wage rate history, visit our webpage.
  • Due to the nature of their work, firefighters and police officers work a specific schedule that is different from that worked by non-sworn employees. Because of the unique nature of these schedules, the hourly rate is not used to determine the minimum wage calculation for these employees. The City’s Livable Wage Ordinance does ensure that these employees’ annual salaries are equal to, or greater than, the annual rate set according to Section 18-23 of the Ordinance.
  • No City of Durham full-time employees’ annual salary is less than $38,396 effective July 1, 2023.
  1. What is the hiring range for solid waste collectors and solid waste drivers?
  1. Did the City provide compensation increases and/or bonuses for employees since the global COVID-19 pandemic?
  1. What is the proposed bonus that is being discussed at the September 21, 2023 City Council Work Session?
  1. Can the City’s fund balance, also known as a “rainy day” fund or savings account, be used to pay ongoing salary increases?
  1. Why is a Classification and Compensation Study needed in 2023? Why can’t the older studies from previous years be used to set salaries now?
  1. Does the City have a leave policy and how is it applied to all employees?
  1. Is the City able to negotiate with unions? Is that allowed in North Carolina?
  1. Why did the City use contractors to help collect garbage when many of the solid waste collectors and drivers did not report to work?
  1. How many Solid Waste workers are there and how many vacancies are in the collections division?