Council, mayor at odds over temporary workers

MERIDIAN — The Meridian City Council and Mayor Percy Bland don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue of temporary employees who have been on the payroll for years or even decades.

“This is not a problem that just happened after July 1 of 2013. This administration will deal with the problem, but these are not issues that have just come about today. But they’re on my desk right now, and we will deal with them,” Bland told WTOK-TV in Meridian.

With override of Bland’s veto this week by the council, the practice of allowing some workers to stay on as temps more than 90 days will now end. Their pay will be suspended once those 90 days are up.

“We want a skilled workforce. If a man or a woman has done a job for 10 or 15 or 20 years, and they’re still here getting up at 7 o’clock in the morning to do the jobs I know a lot of people don’t want to do every day, we need to keep that man or woman,” Bland said.

The council said it wants to help those individuals receive the benefits of being full-time. So those employees will be eligible for full-time positions, but they must prove they’re qualified through a 100-question multiple-choice test.

“When they don’t pass that test, they’re going to lose their job,” Bland said.

Councilwoman Kim Houston said no one is immediately losing their job.

“We want to make sure that they get in a permanent position so they can experience the benefits, health benefits, and all the things that come along with being a full time, permanent employee with the City of Meridian,” Houston said

Bland said he would prefer a different test.

“Now if we’re going to interview those people that are in job-specific things, let’s let that man or woman do that job-specific duty to show that they can perform that job, and not just let a test determine if that person should keep their job or not,” said Bland.

Bland said if those employees were not capable of doing their jobs, they should have already been terminated.

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