Laid-off workers stage protest at City Hall

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A small contingent of the 68 workers laid off by the City of Selma, alongside family and supporters from the community, protested outside of City Hall Wednesday, continuing a demonstration which began Tuesday morning.

 “We’ll be here every day until we get our jobs back,” said Carneetie Ellison. “We’re being held hostage, all over political gains for the mayor and his staff.”

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 Ellison worked for 15 years as Administrative Assistant for the Selma City Parks and Recreation Department and said she never received any “write-ups or verbal warnings” until the current administration came into office.

 All of the former employees complained that they have not received any assistance to make up for the lack of employment, aside from that being provided by the Edmundite Missions, and no indication of when they might return to work.

They noted that some city councilors are working on their behalf but are being hindered by the mayor.

“We want out jobs back,” said Temekia Sykes, former Administrative Assistant for the City Council. “We’ve been thrown in the middle of beef he [Mayor Darrio Melton] has with them [the city council].”

Many of those in attendance filed for unemployment benefits Tuesday, but cannot expect to hear back from the agency for three weeks. Until then, the laid-off workers are facing dire conditions.

One former employee in the Selma City Parks and Recreation Department, Terry Ward, noted that he has a wife, four children, two homes and no prospect for relief.

 “I can’t do nothing,” Ward said. “I’ve got to wait for the unemployment and I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills.”

 Those in attendance called on local taxpayers to join their protest, claiming that citizens will be paying for services that they won’t be receiving, as well as members of the activist group Organize Alabama.

According to the protestors, 11 people in the Parks and Recreation Department were laid-off, leaving only two; another 11 were laid-off in the cemetery department, leaving only four to manage maintenance on up to five local cemeteries; no one is left in the City Council office.

The protestors vowed to be outside of City Hall at 9 a.m. every day until their jobs are restored.