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ONLY ON 3: Wilmington whacks injury leave for cops, firefighters and city workers

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A policy Wilmington City Council approved without discussion in November will limit the amount of benefits an employee can get if they are hurt on the job.

Some city workers are fired up, because they say nobody told them about the change.

“I don’t think we have done a very good job at all of explaining this to our employees,” city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said.

Talbert says the city should have done more to notify workers about their change in benefits.

In November City Manager Sterling Cheatham drafted a letter to council members recommending they reconsider the city’s workers compensation policy.

“We had been providing benefits that were more generous than what was required under state law, and now we are providing what is required under state law,” Talbert said.

The new policy eliminates paying employees like firefighters and police 100 percent of their salaries if they are hurt on the job wile they wait to get workers compensation.

Chuck Bower is the president of the Professional Firefighters Association. He says he wishes somebody would have told him about this policy change before today.

“All employees of the City of Wilmington deserve to be treated fairly,” Bower said. “If you are injured in service to the city of wilmington then you should be able to not have to concern yourself with where your next pay check is going to come from.”

Talbert says the city is working on setting up meetings to talk about the benefits change, but Bower says more should have been done.

“I understand that it’s within the purview of the city manager and the council to do what’s necessary to mange the finances of the city, but this is a pretty significant change,” Bower said.

A change that now affects thousands of city employees.

In his proposal, which was adopted as part of council’s consent agenda Nov. 19, Cheatham said the move would save the city about $16,000 a year.

Cheatham told us he did not understand what we were asking about when we reached him by phone this morning. He also said he was too busy to do an interview.

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