To: Durham City Council
From: Concerned Small Business Owners in Durham
Dear City Council,
We are a group of small business owners who love Durham and all of her people. We love that Durham is a progressive, inclusive, and forward-thinking city. We appreciate Durham’s rich history of civil rights; the creativity, ingenuity, and beautiful communities that make Durham a great place to put down roots. Not only are we proud Durham residents and citizens of North Carolina, but business owners who work hard to contribute to the cultural identity and economic prosperity of Durham. We can’t imagine doing business anywhere else. Durham is our home, and we want to do our part to see it continue to grow and flourish.
While we are so grateful for the incredible resources and opportunities here, we’re currently frustrated and concerned at the lack of willingness on the part of the City Council to support Durham’s essential city workers in their struggle for fair pay, back pay, and full-time positions. City workers are the backbone of Durham. We simply wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the services these people provide.
While we’re aware that the promised Step-Pay plan in place for city workers put on hold during COVID-19 has resumed, the current pay structure for city employees doesn’t reflect the cost of inflation. We know that some city workers can’t even afford to continue to live in Durham because of skyrocketing rental prices, and have moved their families outside of city limits. We also know that MANY city workers don’t make enough annually to support their families and have taken on part-time jobs to supplement their income. For a city like Durham, voted 5th in the nation for small-business growth, we find this unacceptable. If the city wants to profit from the influx of industry giants like Apple and Google, which surely we all do, we need to ensure that the people who make Durham a beautiful and safe place to live and work remain our highest priority.
The City Vision Statement of Durham reads “Durham will be the leading city in providing an excellent and sustainable quality of life.” In order for that to be true, we’re asking that you immediately provide $5,000 bonuses (backpay) to all city workers, hire enough new workers to fill shortages in Solid Waste, Public Works, Fire and other departments, and pay workers for all work done outside of city workers job titles. Additionally, we hope that you will make a good faith commitment to implement raises in next year’s budget to reflect inflation and cost of living in Durham.
As people who directly contribute to Durham’s bottom line with our taxes, and as people who pay the salaries of members of City Council, we urge you to consider our position on these matters with immediacy and care. We’re putting our faith in you to do the right thing.
Thank you for your time.