North Carolina Locals secure civil service protections

August 21 • 2023

Determined lobbying by the Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association of North Carolina (PFFPNC) is reshaping workers’ rights in the Tar Heel state.

The North Carolina General Assembly recently enacted legislation establishing civil service boards to adjudicate labor/management grievances and appeals in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem regions.

“Most IAFF members have never been in a department where the chief could fire you on a whim, without due process,” said General President Edward Kelly. “This win speaks to the PFFPNC’s lobbying efforts on both sides of the aisle.”

Similar laws are already in effect in Asheville (Local 332), Charlotte (Local 660), Raleigh (Local 548), and Elizabeth City (not represented by the IAFF).

“All we have ever asked for is a fair process. And that’s what this new law provides to our Greensboro and Winston-Salem members,” said PFFPNC President Scott Mullins. “In a state like ours that doesn’t have collective bargaining, it is important that we continue to fight until all of our locals have civil service protections.”

Under this new law, the Greensboro and Winston-Salem city charters will be amended to establish a civil service board in both municipalities. Each board will consist of two city appointees, two employee appointees, and one mutually agreed upon appointee.

Greensboro Local 947 and Winston-Salem Local 682 fire fighters and police officers can then submit grievances for consideration to the board.

When IAFF leaders in North Carolina began pushing for the passage of this legislation, both city councils staunchly opposed the idea and even passed resolutions to officially express their opposition. “We did get some push back so getting this legislation passed was not easy,” said Local 682 Secretary-Treasurer Dave Pollard. “But we have worked hard over the years to establish good relationships with the members of our General Assembly and that is what ultimately led to our success.”

Until now, there has been no equitable process for fire fighters to challenge unfair practices related to promotions, rank classification, and disciplinary actions.

“We have had several incidents over the years of unequal application of discipline. But before this new law passed, our only option was to appeal to those who have already decided to discipline us,” said Local 947 President Dave Coker. “The creation of a civil service board provides us with a fair path to submit grievances and appeals when these inequities occur.”