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Some Baltimore City Employees Haven't Had Proper Paycheck This Year: 'I Thought They Were Playing A Joke'

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Public works employees in Baltimore say they haven't been paid a proper paycheck so far this year.

"When I first looked at it, I thought they were playing a joke. I thought I was on TV, or let's make a joke," Trent Cunningham, a DPW worker, said.

Cunningham, a Baltimore City water employee, showed WJZ a $2.10 paycheck dated January 15.

"We have guys here, including myself, who haven't been paid in over a month," he said.

Dozens of public works employees gathered outside of City Hall on Friday, calling for answers.

"It's almost February. What are people supposed to do?" Cleveland Deshields, a DPW worker, said.

"What am I gonna tell the mortgage people? What am I gonna tell the bill collectors, period? What am I gonna tell the car insurance people?" Ron Sims, a DPW worker, said.

The paycheck issues come amid the city modernizing its payroll system with a shift away from paper timesheets.

"This is a citywide issue, not just a DPW issue," Cunningham said.

Police and firefighters had the same issue earlier this month, and Mayor Brandon Scott promised a fix.

"People not getting paid for their work is not acceptable," Scott said. "People have to be made whole."

"Ever since they came out with that workday, it's been nothing but chaos with the city," Deshields said. "People only getting 30 hours that are supposed to be getting 80 hours."

Deshields said pay rates are wrong and nobody has gotten paid overtime or COVID stipends.

"They don't value the ones out here on the ground every day, that's out here doing the jobs that a lot of people wouldn't do," Anthony Hill, a DPW worker, said.

"All we want is an honest pay," Sims said.

In an email, a city representative said its finance and human resources departments are working on the issues from the new system.

"We expect that all DPW workers will receive checks next week for unpaid hours such as overtime and other types of adjustments," the representative wrote.

City Council President Nick Mosby, meanwhile, wrote a letter to Scott calling for an investigation into the issues. The council, he said, plans to introduce a resolution calling for a hearing at its next meeting.

"Municipal employees are the backbone of our city's economy. Their contributions keep our city running, and they must be paid accurately and on time so they can continue to provide financially for their homes and families. Our essential workers deserve a response that is swift, thorough, and provides resolution for their grievances," the letter reads in part.

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