State employees face furloughs, SEANC again fighting privatization

Jun 12, 2020

As expected, state employees are the first to feel the impact of expected lost state revenues from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

First, the Department of Transportation recently announced that its employees would be forced to take furloughs, blaming the crisis even though the state auditor uncovered years of mismanagement and overspending. To make matters worse, DOT workers are being furloughed while contract workers are still getting 40 hours a week or more. The department has not given any information on how much they pay contractors or how it compares to state employee pay, making it impossible to know if contract work is cost-efficient or unfair for state employees.

On Thursday, East Carolina University became the first university system member to announce furloughs of their own. 110 employees who work in “auxiliary and receipt-supported enterprises” – jobs that are supported by people being on campus – will be furloughed up to 90 days. Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson told reporters that more furloughs are expected in the future.

Privatization has already reared its ugly head as well. The Department of Public Safety contracted with a private security firm to provide armed security guards at Neuse Correctional in Goldsboro and Southern Correctional in Troy.

The security guards will receive $29 per hour – which equates to more than 150% of a normal starting salary for a correctional officer. This reckless spending makes no sense other than allowing the corporation, P&G Security of Salisbury, to get the $1.4 million contract. The COVID-19 Recovery Act allowed this to occur, but a second bill awaiting the governor’s signature would allow it to continue through 2022.

SEANC opposes privatization in any form. As is evident by the mismanagement and cost overruns at DOT, private contracts are a loser for the state and for taxpayers. We will continue to oppose DPS’s actions and all other attempts to sell off state government to the highest bidder.